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

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little treatise entitled A Short and very Easy Method of Prayer; and
both seem rather to have repelled her. In 1867 she wrote to a friend:

There is a book I would be glad to have you read, and which I think you
would wish to own; 'Thoughts on Personal Religion,' by Goulburn. I never
read a modern religious book that had in it so much, that really edified
me. I take for granted you have Thomas a Kempis; on that and on Fenelon
I have feasted for years every day; I like strengthening food and
whatever deals a blow at this monster Self. Madame Guyon I do not

But now she began to feel, as so many earnest seekers after holiness had
felt before her, the strong attraction of this remarkable woman. While
never becoming to her what Fenelon was, Madame Guyon for several years
exerted a decided influence upon her views of the Christian life; nor
is there reason to think that this influence was not, on the whole,
salutary. Notwithstanding her grave errors and the extravagances which
marred her career, Madame Guyon was no doubt one of the holiest, as she
was certainly one of the most gifted, women of her own or any other age.

_To Mrs. J Elliot Condict, New York, Jan. 2, 1870._

It has been a real disappointment not to see you. How quickly we learn
to lean on earthly things! I am afraid I prize Christian fellowship too
much, and that I am behaving in a miserly way about all divine gifts,
shutting myself up here in this room, which often seems like the gate of
heaven, and luxuriating in it, instead of going about preaching the glad
tidings to other souls. Yet work for Christ, when He gives it, is sweet,
too, and if answering your note is the little tiny bit He offers me at
this moment, how glad I am. Though I am not, just now, in the furnace as
you are, there is no knowing how soon I shall be, and I remember well
enough how the furnace feels, to have deep sympathy with you in your
trials. Sympathy, but not regret; I can't make myself be very sorry for
Christ's disciples when He takes them in hand--He does it so tenderly,
so wisely, so lovingly; and it can hardly be true, can it? that He is
just as near and dear to me when my cup is as full of earthly blessings
as it can hold, as He is to you whose cup He is emptying?

I have always thought they knew and loved Him best who knew Him in His
character of Chastiser; but perhaps one never loses the memory of His
revelations of Himself in that form, and perhaps that tender memory
saddens and hallows the day of prosperity. At any rate, you and I seem
to be in full sympathy with each other; your empty cup isn't empty, and
my full one would be bitter if love to Christ did not sweeten it. It
matters very little on what paths we are walking, since we find Him in
every one. How ashamed we shall be when we get to heaven, of our talk
about our trials here! Why don't we sing songs instead? We know how, for
He has put the songs into our mouths. I think I know something about the
land of Beulah, but I don't quite _live_ in it yet; and yet what is this
joy if it isn't beatitude, if it is not a foretaste of that which is to
come? It isn't joy in what He has done for me, a sinner, but adoring joy
for what He is, though I do not _begin to know_ what He is. It will take
an eternity to learn that lesson.

Do you really mean to say that Miss K. is going to pray for _me_? How
delightful! I am _greedy_ for prayer; nobody is rich enough to give me
anything I so long for; indeed when my husband begged me to tell him
what I wanted at Christmas, I couldn't think of a thing; but oh, what
unutterable longing I have for more of Christ. Why should we not speak
freely to each other of Him? Don't apologise for it again. The wonder is
that we have the heart to speak of anything else. Sometimes I am almost
frightened at the expressions of love I pour out upon Him, and wonder if
I am really in earnest; if I really mean all I say. Is it even so
with you? It is not foolish, is it? Perhaps He likes to hear our poor
stammerings, when we can not get our emotions and our thoughts into

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Jan. 7, 1870._

I find letters more and more unsatisfactory. How little I know of your
real life, how little you know of mine! So much is going on all the time
that I should run and tell you about if you lived here, but which it
would take too long to write. I have very precious Christian friends
within six months, who take, or rather to whom I give, more time than I
could or would spare for any ordinary friendship; one of them has spent
four hours in my room with me at a time, and we had wonderful communings
together. Then two dear friends have died. One of the two, of whom you
have heard me speak, was the most useful woman in our church; my husband
and I both wept over her death. The other directed in dying that a copy
of Stepping Heavenward should be given to each of her Sunday scholars;
a lifelong fear of death was taken away, and she declared it pleasanter
and easier to die than to live; her last words, five minutes before
she drew her last gentle breath, came with the upward, dying look,
"Wonderful love!"

You can't think how sweet it is to be a pastor's wife; to feel the
_right_ to sympathise with those who mourn, to fly to them at once, and
join them in their prayers and tears. It would be pleasant to spend
one's whole time among sufferers, and to keep testifying to them what
Christ can and will become to them, if they will only let Him.... No, I
never "Dialed" or was transcendental. I don't think knowledge will come
to us by intuition in heaven, though knowledge enough to get started
there, will. But I don't much care how it will be. I know we shall learn
Christ there. I have read lately Prof. Phelps on the Solitude of Christ;
it is a suggestive little book which I like much. Have you ever read the
Life of Mrs. Hawkes? It is interesting because she records so many
of Cecil's wonderful remarks--such, e.g., as these: "a humble, kind
silence often utters much." "To-morrow you and I shall walk together in
a garden, when I hope to talk with you about everything but sadness." I
am going to ask a favor of you, though I hate to put you to the trouble.
In writing a telegram in great haste and sorrow, I accidentally used and
cut into the lines you copied for me--Sabbath hymn in sickness. It was a
real loss, and if you ever feel a little stronger than usual, will you
make me another copy? I so often want to comfort sick persons with it.

I have half promised to write a serial for a magazine, the organ of the
Young Men's Christian Association, though I know nothing of young men
and hate to write serials. I wish I could hide in some hole. I get
bright letters from A., who is having a very nice time. I write her
every day; wretched letters, which she thinks delightful, fortunately.
We have a quiet time this winter, but such nice things can't last, and I
am afraid of this world anyhow. I know you pray for me, as I do for you
and Miss L. every day. I have a thousand things to say that I shall have
to put off till I see you. Good-bye, dearie.

_To Mrs. Condict, Sunday, March 6, 1870._

I have had some really sweet days, shut up with my dear little boy. He
is better, and I am comparatively at leisure again, and so happy in
meditating on the character of my Saviour, and in the sense of His
nearness, that I _ache_, and have had to beg Him to give me no more,
but to carry this joy to you and to Miss K. and to two friends, who,
languishing on dying beds, need it so much. [2] If I could shed tears I
should not have to tell you this, and indeed it is nothing new; but one
must have vent in some way. And this reminds me to explain to you why
to three dear Christian friends I now and then send verses; they are my
tears of joy or sorrow, and when I feel most deeply it is a relief to
versify, and a pleasure to open my heart to those who feel as I do. I
have been in print ever since I was sixteen years old, and admiration
is an old story; I care very little for it; but I do crave and value
sympathy with those who love Christ. And it is such a new thing to open
my heart thus! I have written any number of verses that no human being
has ever seen, because they came from the very bottom of my heart.

I wish I could put into words all the blessed thoughts I had last week
about God's dear will: it was a week of such sweet content with the work
He gave me to do; naturally I hate nursing, and losing the air makes me
feel unwell; but what can't God do with us? I love, dearly, to have a
_Master_. I fancy that those who have strong wills, are the ones to
enjoy God's sovereignty most. I wonder if you realise what a very happy
creature I am? and how much _too good_ God is to me? I don't see how He
can heap such mercies on a poor sinner; but that only shows how little I
know Him. But then, I am learning to know Him, and shall go on doing it
forever and ever; and so will you. I am not sure that it is best for us,
once safe and secure on the Rock of Ages, to ask ourselves too closely
what this and that experience may signify. Is it not better to be
thinking of the Rock, not of the feet that stand upon it? It seems to me
that we ought to be unconscious of ourselves, and that the nearer we get
to Christ, the more we shall be taken up with Him. We shall be like a
sick man who, after he gets well, forgets all the old symptoms he used
to think so much of, and stops feeling his pulse, and just enjoys his
health, only pointing out his _physician_ to all who are diseased. You
will see that this is in answer to a portion of your letter, in which
you say Miss K. interprets to you certain experiences. If I am wrong I
am willing to be set right; perhaps I have not said clearly what I meant
to say. I certainly mean no _criticism_ on you or her, but am only
thinking aloud and querying.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, March 27, 1870._

You ask if I revel in the Pilgrim's Progress. Yes, I do. I think it an
amazing book. It seems to me almost as much an inspiration as the Bible
itself. [3] I am glad you liked that hymn. I write in verse whenever I
am deeply stirred, because, though as full of tears as other people, I
can not shed them. But I never showed any of these verses to any one,
not even my husband, till this winter. But if I were more with you no
doubt I should venture to let you run over some of them, at least those
my dear husband has seen and likes. I have felt about hymns just as you
say you do, as if I loved them more than the Bible. But I have got over
that; I prayed myself out of it, not loving hymns the less, but the
Bible more. I wonder if you sing; I can't remember; if you do, I will
send you, sometime, a hymn to sing for my sake, called "More love to
Thee, O Christ." Only to think, our silver wedding comes next month, and
A. and the Smiths away!

I have been interrupted by callers, and must have been in the parlor
several hours. You can't think what a sweet, peaceful winter this has
been, nor how good the children are. My cup has just run over, and at
times I am too happy to be comfortable, if you know what that means;
not having a strong body, I suppose you do. Mrs. B. has been in a very
critical state of late, but she is rallying, and I may, perhaps, have
the privilege of seeing her again. I have had some precious times with
her in her sick-room; last Friday, a week ago, she prayed with me in the
sweetest temper of mind, and came with me when I took leave, to the head
of the stairs, full of love and smiles.

_To a Young Friend, April 5, 1870._

I wish that hymn for the sick-room were mine, but it is not. I will
enclose one that is, which my dear husband has kindly had printed;
perhaps you will like to sing it to the tune of "Nearer, my God, to
Thee." There is not much in it, but you can put everything into it as
you make it your prayer. I can't help feeling that every soul I meet, of
whom I can ask, What think you of Christ? and get the glad answer, "He
is the chiefest among ten thousand, _the One_ altogether lovely"--is a
blessing as well as a comfort to mine; and whenever you can and do say
it, you will become more dear to me. Your God and Saviour won you as an
easy victory, but He had to fight for me. It seems to me now that He
ought to have all there is of me--which, to be sure, isn't much--and I
hope He is taking it. His ways with me have been perfectly beautiful and
infinite in long-suffering and patience.

_April 11th._--Your note has reawakened a question I have often had
occasion to ask myself before. Why do my friends speak of my letters as
giving more pleasure or profit than anything that goes to them from me
in print? Is human nature so selfish? Must everybody have everything
to himself? It might seem so at first blush, but I think there are two
sides to this question. May it not be possible that God sends a message
directly from _one_ heart to _another_ as He does not to the _many?_
Does He not speak through the living voice and the pen that is that
voice, as He does not do in the less unconstrained form of print? At any
rate, I love to believe that He directs each word and look and tone;
_inspires_ rather, I should say.

I should like you to offer a special prayer for us on Saturday. That day
completes twenty-five years of married life to us, and, though it has
its shades as well as its lights, I do not think I can do better for you
than ask that you may have such years,

"For who the backward scene hath scanned
But blessed the Father's guiding hand?"

I can more truly thank Him for His chastisements than for His worldly
indulgences; the latter urge from, the former drive to Him. I am saying
a great thing in a feeble way, and you may multiply it by ten thousand,
and it will still be weak.

The hymn, "More Love to Thee, O Christ," belongs, probably, as far back
as the year 1856. Like most of her hymns, it is simply a prayer put into
the form of verse. She wrote it so hastily that the last stanza was left
incomplete, one line having been added in pencil when it was printed.
She did not show it, not even to her husband, until many years after it
was written; and she wondered not a little that, when published, it met
with so much favor.

* * * * *


Her Silver Wedding. "_I have Lived, I have Loved_." No Joy can put her
out of Sympathy with the Trials of Friends. A Glance backward. Last
Interview with a dying Friend. More Love and more Likeness to Christ.
Funeral of a little Baby. Letters to Christian Friends.

If 1870 was the crowning year in Mrs. Prentiss' life, the 16th of April
was that year's most precious jewel. As the time drew nigh, a glow of
tender, grateful recollection suffused her countenance.

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.

She talked of the past, like one lost in wonder, while the light and
beauty of the vanished years appeared still to rest upon her spirit.
The day itself, which had been kept from the knowledge of most of her
friends, was full of sweet content, rehearsing, as it were, all the days
of her married life; and, at its close, the measure of her earthly joy
seemed to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

_To Mrs. Leonard, New York, April 16, 1845-1870._

Do you know that it is just twenty-five years since we first met? How
gladly would I spend the day of our silver wedding with you! You will
see that I am near in spirit, at all events. My thoughts have been busy
the past week with reviewing the years through which I have travelled,
hand in hand, with my dear husband; years full of sin, full of
suffering, full of joy; brimful of the loving-kindness and tender mercy
that smote often and smote surely. Your last letter only confirms what I
already knew, but am never tired of hearing repeated, the faithfulness
of God to those whom He afflicts. When we once find out what He is to
an aching, empty heart, we want to make everybody see just what we see,
and, until we try in vain, think we can. I had very peculiar feelings in
relation to you when your dear husband was, for a time, parted from you.
I knew God would never afflict you so, if He had not something beautiful
and blissful to give in place of what He took. And what can we ask for
that compares for one instant with "the almost constant felt presence of
our Saviour's sympathy and support"? Our human nature would like to have
the earthly and the divine friendship at once; but, if we must choose
between the twain, surely you and I would choose Christ without one
moment's hesitation. I hope you mention my name every day to Him as I do
yours, as I _love_ to do.

I enclose, and want you, when by yourself, to sing for my sake a little
hymn that I am sure is the language of your heart. My dear husband had
a few copies struck off to give friends. Write soon and often. Oh,
that you lived here or at Dorset. Good-bye, with warmest love, now
_twenty-five_ years old!

_To Mrs. Condict, New York, April 20, 1870._

Last Saturday was the twenty-fifth anniversary of our marriage, and a
very happy day to us both. My dear husband wrote me a letter that made
me tremble, lest he should get such hold of me as no human being must
have. I have a very curious feeling about life; a _satisfied_ one, and
as if it could not possibly give me much more than I now have. _"I have
lived, I have loved."_ [4] People often say they have so much to live
for; I can't feel so, though I am not only willing, but glad to live
while my husband and children need me; and yet--and yet--to have this
problem solved, and to be forever with the Lord! I want to see you. I
can no longer see my dear Mrs. B.; she is too ill, and that makes me
miss you the more. I hope that little MS. of mine did not task your
sympathies; I don't want you to pity me, but to magnify Him who took
such pains with me, and is carrying on just such work in thousands of
hearts and lives. What goodness! What condescension! The least we can
do who have suffered much is to love much.... I have been studying the
Bible on the subject of giving personal testimony, and think it makes
this a plain duty. There is nothing like the influence of one living
soul on another. Then why should we not naturally speak to everybody who
will listen, of what fills our thoughts; our Saviour, His beauty, His
goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom! I don't believe a full heart
_can help_ running over.

_To a young Friend, April 21, 1870._

I was right sorry to lose your Saturday's call. It was a happy day to
me, but I can conceive of no enjoyment of any sort that would put me out
of sympathy with the trials of friends:

"Old and young are bringing troubles,
Great and small, for me to hear;
_I have often blessed by sorrows
That drew other's grief so near."_

I thought I was saying a very ordinary thing when I spoke of thanking
God for His long years of discipline, but very likely life did not look
to me at your age as it does now. I was rather startled the other day,
to find it written in German, in my own hand, "I can not say the will is
there," referring to a hymn which says, "Der Will ist da, die Kraft ist
klein, Doch wird dir nicht zuwider seyn." I suppose there was some great
struggle going on when this foolish heart said that, just as if God did
not _invariably_ do for us the very best that can be done. [5] You speak
of having your love to Jesus intensified by interviews with me. It can
hardly be otherwise, when those meet together who love Him, and it is a
rule that works both ways; acts and reacts. I should be thankful if no
human being could ever meet me, even in a chance way, and not go away
clasping Him the closer, and if I could meet no one who did not so stir
and move me. It is my constant prayer. I have such insatiable longings
to know and love Him better that I go about hungering and thirsting for
the fellowship of those who feel so too; when I meet them I call them
my "benedictions." Next best to being with Christ Himself, I love to
be with those who have His spirit and are yearning for more of His
likeness. You speak of putting "deep and dark chasms between" yourself
and Christ. He lets us do this that we may learn our nothingness, our
weakness, and turn, disgusted, from ourselves to Him. May I venture
to assure you that the "chasms" occur less and less frequently as one
presses on, till finally they turn into "mountains of light." Get and
keep a will for God, and everything that will is ready for will come.
This is about a tenth part of what I might say.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, April 25, 1870._

I wish I could describe to you my last interview with Mrs. B. She had
altered so in two weeks in which I had not seen her, that I should not
have known her. She spoke with difficulty, but by getting close to her
mouth I could hear all she said. She went back to the first time she met
me, told me her heart then knitted itself to mine, and how she had
loved me ever since, etc., etc. I then asked her if she had any parting
counsel to give me: "No, not a word.".... Some one came in and wet her
lips, gave her a sprig of citronatis, and passed out. I crushed it and
let her smell the bruised leaves, saying, "You are just like these
crushed leaves." She smiled, and replied, "Well, I haven't had one pain
too many, not one. But the agony has been dreadful. I won't talk about
that; I just want to see your sunny face." I asked if she was rejoicing
in the hope of meeting lost friends and the saints in heaven. She said,
with an expressive look, "Oh, no, I haven't got so far as _that_. I
have only got as far as Christ." "For all that," I said, "you'll see my
father and mother there." "Why, so I shall," with another bright smile.
But her lips were growing white with pain, and I came away.

Did I tell you it was our silver wedding-day on the 16th? We had a very
happy day, and if I could see you I should like to tell you all about
it. But it is too long a story to tell in writing. I don't see but I've
had everything this life can give, and have a curious feeling as if I
had got to a stopping-place. I heard yesterday that two of M.'s teachers
had said they looked at her with perfect awe on account of her goodness.
I really never knew her to do anything wrong.

_To a young Friend New York, May 1, 1870._

I could write forever on the subject of Christian charity, but I must
say that in the case you refer to, I think you accuse yourself unduly.
We are not to part company with our common sense because we want to
clasp hands with the Love that thinketh no evil, and we can not help
seeing that there are few, if any, on earth without beams in their eyes
and foibles and sins in their lives. The fact that your friend repented
and confessed his sin, entitled him to your forgiving love, but not
to the ignoring of the fact that he was guilty.... Temptations come
sometimes in swarms, like bees, and running away does no good, and
fighting only exasperates them. The only help must come from Him who
understands and can control the whole swarm.

You ask for my prayers, and I ask for yours. I long ago formed the habit
of praying at night individually, if possible, for all who had come to
me through the day, or whom I had visited; but you contrive to get a
much larger share than that. I love to think of your future holiness and
usefulness as even in the very least linked to my prayers. Oh, I ought
to know how to pray a great deal better than I do, for forty years ago,
save one, I this day publicly dedicated myself to Christ. I write to you
because I like to do so, recognising no difference between writing and
talking. When no better work comes to me, I am glad to give the little
pleasure I can, in notes and letters. He who knows how poor we are, how
little we have to give, does not disdain even a note like this, since it
is written in love to Him and to one of His own dear ones.

_May 23d._--Your last letter was like a fragrant breath of country air,
redolent of flowers, and all that makes rural scenes so sweet. But
better still, it was fragrant with love to Him who is the bond between
us, in whose name and for whose sake we are friends. I wish I loved Him
better and were more like Him; perhaps that is about as far as we get in
this world, for no matter how far we advance, we are never satisfied;
there is always something ahead; I doubt if any one ever said, even in a
whisper and to himself, "Now I love my Saviour as much as a human soul

You speak of my having given you "counsels." Have I had the presumption
to do that? Two-thirds of the time I feel as if I wanted somebody to
counsel me; the only thing I really know that you do not, is what it is
to be beaten with persistent, ceaseless stripes, year after year, year
after year, with scarcely breathing time between. I don't know whether
this is most an argument against me, or for God; on the whole it is most
for Him, who was so good and kind as never to spare me for my writhing
and groaning. Truly as I value this discipline, I want you to give
yourself to Him so unreservedly that you will not need such sharp
treatment. I am not going to keep writing and getting you in debt. All I
ask is if you ever feel a little under the weather and want a specially
loving or cheering word, to give me the chance to speak or write it.

A chapter might be written about Mrs. Prentiss' love for little
children, the enthusiasm with which she studied all their artless ways,
her delight in their beauty, and the reverence with which she regarded
the mystery of their infant being. Her faith in their real, complete
humanity, their susceptibility to spiritual influences, and, when called
from earth, their blessed immortality in and through Christ, was very
vivid; and it was untroubled by any of those distressing doubts, or
misgivings, that are engendered by the materialistic spirit and science
of the age. Contempt for them shocked her as an offence against the Holy
Child Jesus, their King and Saviour. Her very look and manner as she
took a young infant, especially a sick or dying infant, in her arms and
gave it a loving kiss, seemed to say:

Sweet baby, little as thou art,
Thou art a human whole;
Thou hast a little human heart,
Thou hast a deathless soul. [6]

The following letter to a Christian mother, dated May 13th, will show
her feeling on this subject:

This morning we attended the funeral of a little baby, eight months old.
My husband, in his remarks, said that though born and ever continuing to
be a sufferer, it was never saddened by this fellowship with Christ; and
that he believed it was a partaker of His holiness, and glad through His
indwelling, even though unconscious of it. During the last days of
its life, after each paroxysm of coughing, it would look first at its
mother, then at its father, for sympathy, and then look upward with a
face radiant beyond description. I can't tell you how it touched me to
think that I had in that baby a little Christian _sister_--not merely
redeemed, but sanctified from its birth--and I know it will touch and
strengthen you to hear of it. I felt a reverence for that tiny, lifeless
form, that I can not put into words. And, indeed, why should it be
harder for God to enter into the soul of an infant than into our
"unlikeliest" ones? ... I see more and more that if we have within us
the mind of Christ, we must bear the burden of other griefs than our
own; He did not merely _pity_ suffering humanity; He _bore_ our griefs,
and in all our afflictions He was afflicted.

_To Mrs. Condict, June 6, 1870._

If you can get hold of the April number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, read
an article in it called "Psychology in the Life, Work and Teachings of
Jesus." I think it very striking and very true. Praying for Dr. ----
this morning, I had such a peaceful feeling that he was safe. Do you
feel so about him? I had a very different experience about another man
who has been to see me since I began this letter, and who said I was
the first _happy_ person he ever met. May God lay that to his heart!...
Rummaging among dusty things in the attic this forenoon with great
repugnance, I found such a beautiful letter from my husband, written for
my solace in Switzerland when he was in Paris (he wrote me every day,
sometimes twice a day, during the two months of our enforced separation)
that even the drudgery of getting my hands soiled and my back broken was
sweetened. That's the way God keeps on spoiling us; one good thing after
another till we are ashamed. Well, let us step onward, hand in hand. I
wonder which of us will outrun the other and step in first? I am so glad
I'm willing to live.

In the course of this spring _The Percys_ was published. The story first
came out as a serial in the New York Observer. It was translated into
French under the title _La Famille Percy_. In 1876 a German version
appeared under the title _Die Familie Percy_. It was also republished in
London. [7]

* * * * *


Lines on going to Dorset. A Cloud over her. Faber's Life. Loving Friends
for one's own sake and loving them for Christ's sake. The Bible and the
Christian Life. Dorset Society and Occupations. Counsels to a young
Friend in Trouble. "Don't stop praying for your Life!" Cure for the
Heart-sickness caused by a Sight of human Imperfections. Fenelon's
Teaching about Humiliation and being patient with Ourselves.

The following lines, found among her papers after her death, show in
what spirit she went to Dorset:

Once more I change my home, once more begin
Life in this rural stillness and repose;
But I have brought with me my heart of sin,
And sin nor quiet nor cessation knows.

Ah, when I make the final, blessed change,
I shall leave that behind, shall throw aside
Earth's soiled and soiling garments, and shall range
Through purer regions like a youthful bride.

Thrice welcome be that day! Do thou, meanwhile,
My soul, sit ready, unencumbered wait;
The Master bides thy coming, and His smile
Shall bid thee welcome at the golden gate.
DORSET, June 15, 1870.

_To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, June 18, 1870._

I would love to have you here with me in this dear little den of mine
and see the mountains from my window. My husband has gone back to town,
and my only society is that of the children, so you would be most
welcome if you should come in either smiling or sighing. I have had a
cloud over me of late. Do you know about Mr. Prentiss' appointment by
General Assembly to a professorship at Chicago? His going would involve
not only our tearing ourselves out of the heart of our beloved church,
but of my losing you and Miss K., and of our all losing this dear little
home. Of course, he does not want to go, and I am shocked at the thought
of his leaving the ministry; but, on the other hand, there is a right
and a wrong to the question, and we ought to want to do whatever God
chooses. The thought of giving up this home makes me know better how to
sympathise with you if you have to part with yours. I do think it is
good for us to be emptied from vessel to vessel, and there is something
awful in the thought of having our own way with leanness in the soul. I
am greatly pained in reading Faber's Life and Letters, at the shocking
way in which he speaks of Mary, calling her his mamma, and praying to
her and to Joseph, and nobody knows who not. It seems almost incredible
that this is the man who wrote those beautiful strengthening hymns. It
sets one to praying "Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe." ... I should
have forgotten the lines of mine you quote if you had not copied them.
God give to you and to me a thousandfold more of the spirit they
breathe, and make us wholly, wholly His own! My repugnance to go to
Chicago makes me feel that perhaps that is just the wrench I need. Well,
good-bye; at the longest we have not long to stay in this sphere of
discipline and correction.

_To Mr. G. S. P., Dorset, July 13, 1870._

I had just come home from a delicious little tramp through our own woods
when your letter came, and now, if you knew what was good for you, you
would drop in and take tea and spend the evening with us. I should like
you to see our house and our mountains, and our cup that runs over till
we are ashamed. Had I not known you wouldn't come I should have given
you a chance, especially as my husband was gone and I was rather lonely;
though to be sure he always writes me every day. On the way up here I
was glad of time to think out certain things I had been waiting for
leisure to attend to. One had some connection with you, as well as one
or two other friends. I had long felt that there was a real, though
subtle, difference between human--and, shall I say divine?--affection,
but did not see just what it was. Turning it over in my mind that
day, it suddenly came to me as this. Human friendship may be entirely
selfish, giving only to receive in return, or may be partially so--yet
still selfish. But the love that grows out of the love of Christ, and
that delights in His image wherever it is seen, claims no response;
loves because it is its very nature to do so, because it can not help
it, and this without regard to what its object gives. I dare not pretend
that I have fully reached this state, but I have entered this land, and
know that it is one to be desired as a home, an abiding place. I have
thought painfully of the narrow quarters and the hot nights endured by
so many in New York, during this unusually warm weather--especially of
Mrs. G. with three restless children in bed with her and her poor lonely
heart. I can not but believe that Christ has real purposes of mercy to
her soul. I feel interested in Mr. H.'s summer work in a hard field. In
place of aversion to young men, I am beginning to realise how true work
for Christ one may do by praying persistently for them, especially those
consecrated to the ministry of His gospel. I do hope Christ will have
the whole of you, and that you will have the whole of Him. When you
write, let me know how you like my beloved Fenelon. Still, you may
not like him. Some Christians never get to feeding on these mystical
writers, and get on without them.

_To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, July 18, 1870._

I was greatly struck with these words yesterday: "As for God His way is
perfect"; think of reading the Bible through four times in one year, and
nobody knows how many times since, and never resting on these words.
Somehow they charmed me. And these words have been ringing in my ears,

"Earth looks so little and so low,"

while conscious that when I can get ferns and flowers, it does not look
so "little" or so "low," as it does when I can't. My cook, who is a
Romanist, has been prevented from going to her own church seven miles
off, by the weather, ever since we came here, and last Sunday said
she meant to go to ours. Mr. P. preached on God's character as our
Physician, and she was delighted. I think it was hearing one of his
little letters to the children that made her realise, that he was a
Christian man whom she might safely hear; at any rate, I feel greatly
pleased and comforted that she could appreciate such a subject. I fear
you are suffering from the weather; we never knew anything like it here.
We do not suffer, but wake up every morning _bathed_ in a breeze that
refreshes for the day; I mean we do not suffer while we keep still. I am
astonished at God's goodness in giving us this place; not His goodness
itself, but towards _us_. If Mrs. Brinsmade [8] left much of such
material as the extract you sent me, I wonder Dr. B. did not write
her memoir. The more I read of what Christ said about faith, the more
impressed I am. Just now I am on the last chapters in the gospel of
John, and feel as if I had never read them before. They are just
wonderful. We have to read the Bible to understand the Christian life,
and we must penetrate far into that life in order to understand the
Bible. How beautifully the one interprets the other! I want you to let
me know, without telling her that I asked you, if Miss K. could make me
a visit if it were not for the expense?

_To Miss E. A. Warner, Dorset, July 20, 1870._

Did you ever use a fountain pen? I have had one given me, and like it so
much that I sent for one for my husband, and one for Mr. Pratt. When one
wants to write in one's lap, or out of doors, it is delightful. Mrs.
Field came over from East Dorset on Sunday to have her baby baptized.
They had him there in the church through the whole morning service, and
he was as quiet as any of us. The next day Mrs. F. came down and spent
the morning with me, sweeter, more thoughtful than ever, if changed at
all. Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey, of Philadelphia, are passing the summer here
at the tavern, and we spend most of our evenings there, or they come
here. Mrs. H. is a very superior woman, and though I was determined not
to like her, because I have so many people on hand already, I found I
could not help it. She is as furious about mosses and lichens and all
such things as I am, and the other day took home a _bushel-basket_ of
them. She is an earnest Christian, and has passed through deep waters;
I ought to have reversed the order of those clauses. Excuse this rather
hasty letter; I feared you might fancy your book lost. If you are alive,
let me know it, also if you are dead.

_To a young Friend, Dorset, Aug. 8, 1870._

I dare not answer your letter, just received, in my own strength, but
must pray over it long. It is a great thing to learn how far our doubts
and despondencies are the direct result of physical causes, and another
great thing is, when we can not trace any such connexion, to bear
patiently and quietly what God _permits_, if He does not authorise. I
have no more doubt that you love Him, and that He loves you, than that
I love Him and that He loves me. You have been daily in my prayers.
Temptations and conflict are inseparable from the Christian life; no
strange thing has happened to you. Let me comfort you with the assurance
that you will be taught more and more by God's Spirit how to resist; and
that true strength and holy manhood will spring up from this painful
soil. Try to take heart; there is more than one foot-print on the
sands of time to prove that "some forlorn and shipwrecked brother" has
traversed them before you, and come off conqueror through the Beloved.
_Don't stop praying for your life._ Be as cold and emotionless as you
please; God will accept your naked faith, when it has no glow or warmth
in it; and in His own time the loving, glad heart will come back to you.
I deeply feel for and with you, and have no doubt that a week among
these mountains would do more towards uniting you to Christ than a mile
of letters would. You can't complain of any folly to which I could not
plead guilty. I have put my Saviour's patience to every possible test,
and how I love Him when I think what He will put up with.

You ask if I "ever feel that religion is a sham"? No, never. I _know_ it
is a reality. If you ask if I am ever staggered by the inconsistencies
of professing Christians, I say yes, I am often made heartsick by them;
but heartsickness always makes me run to Christ, and one good look at
Him pacifies me. This is in fact my panacea for every ill; and as to my
own sinfulness, that would certainly overwhelm me if I spent much time
in looking at it. But it is a monster whose face I do not love to see;
I turn from its hideousness to the beauty of His face who sins not, and
the sight of "yon lovely Man" ravishes me. But at your age I did this
only by fits and starts, and suffered as you do. So I know how to feel
for you, and what to ask for you. God purposely sickens us of man and of
self, that we may learn to "look long at Jesus."

And this brings me to what you say about Fenelon's going too far, when
he says we may judge of the depth of our humility by our delight in
humiliation, etc. No, he does not go a bit too far. Paul says, "I will
_glory_ in my infirmities"--"I take _pleasure_ in infirmities, in
reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ's
sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." I think this a great
attainment; but that His disciples may reach it, though only through a
humbling, painful process. Then as to God's glory. We say, "Man's chief
end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Now, can we enjoy Him till
we do glorify Him? Can we enjoy Him while living for ourselves, while
indulging in sin, while prayerless and cold and dead? Does not God
directly seek our highest happiness when He strips us of vainglory and
self-love, embitters the poisonous draught of mere human felicity,
and makes us fall down before Him lost in the sense of His beauty and
desirableness? The connexion between glorifying and enjoying Him is,
to my mind, perfect--one following as the _necessary sequence_ of the
other; and facts bear me out in this. He who has let self go and lives
only for the honor of God, is the free, the happy man. He is no longer a
slave, but has the liberty of the sons of God; for "him who honors me, I
will honor." Satan has befogged you on this point. He dreads to see you
ripen into a saintly, devoted, useful man. He hopes to overwhelm and
ruin you. But he will not prevail. You have solemnly given yourself to
the Lord; you have chosen the work of winning and feeding souls as your
life-work, and you can not, must not go back. These conflicts are the
lot of those who are training to be the Lord's true yoke-fellows.
Christ's sweetest consolations lie behind crosses, and He reserves His
best things for those who have the courage to press forward, fighting
for them. I entreat you to turn your eyes away from self, from man, and
look to Christ. Let me assure you, as a fellow-traveller, that I have
been on the road and know it well, and that by and by there won't be
such a dust on it. You will meet with hindrances and trials, but will
fight quietly through, and no human ear hear the din of battle, no human
eye perceive fainting or halting or fall. May God bless you, and become
to you an ever-present, joyful reality! Indeed He will; only wait

In glancing over this, I see that I have here and there repeated myself.
Do excuse it. I believe it is owing to the way the flies harass and
distract me.

_August 17th._--I feel truly grateful to God if I have been of any
comfort to you. I know only too well the shock of seeing professors of
even sinless perfection guilty of what I consider sinful sin, and my
whole soul was so staggered that for some days I could not pray, but
could only say, "O God, if there be any God, come to my rescue." ... But
God loves better than He knows us, and foresaw every infidelity before
He called us to Himself. Nothing in us takes Him, therefore, by
surprise. Fenelon teaches what no other writer does--to be "patient with
ourselves," and I think as you penetrate into the Christian life, you
will agree with him on every point as I do.

_August 19th._--I have had a couple of rather sickish days since writing
the above, but am all right again now. Hot weather does not agree with
me. I used to reproach myself for religious stupidity when not well, but
see now that God Is my kind Father--not my hard taskmaster, expecting me
to be full of life and zeal when physically exhausted. It takes long to
learn such lessons. One has to penetrate deeply into the heart of Christ
to begin to know its tenderness and sympathy and forbearance.

You can't imagine how Miss K. has luxuriated in her visit, nor how good
she thinks we all are. She holds views to which I can not quite respond,
but I do not condemn or reject them. She is a modest, praying, devoted
woman; not disposed to obtrude, much less to urge her opinions; full
of Christian charity and forbearance; and I am truly thankful that she
prays for me and mine; in fact, she loves to pray so, that when she gets
hold of a new case, she acts as one does who has found a treasure.

I wish you were looking out with me on the beautiful array of mountains
to be seen from every window of our house and breathing this delicious

_September 25th._--We expect now to go home on Friday next, though if I
had known how early the foliage was going to turn this year, I should
have planned to stay a week longer to see it in all its glory. It is
looking very beautiful even now, and our eyes have a perpetual feast. We
have had a charming summer, but one does not want to play all the time,
and I hope God has work of some sort for me to do at home during the
winter. Meanwhile, I wish I could send you a photograph of the little
den where I am now writing, and the rustic adornings which make it _sui
generis_, and the bit of woods to be seen from its windows, that, taking
the lead of all other Dorset woods, have put on floral colors, just
because they are ours and know we want them looking their best before we
go away. But this wish must yield to fate, like many another; and, as I
have come to the end of my paper, I will love and leave you.

* * * * *


_The Story Lizzie Told._ Country and City. The Law of Christian
Progress. Letters to a Friend bereft of three Children. Sudden Death of
another Friend. "Go on; step faster." Fenelon and his Influence upon her
religious Life. Lines on her Indebtedness to him.

_The Story Lizzie Told_ was published about this time. It had already
appeared in the Riverside Magazine. The occasion of the story was a
passage in a letter from London written by a friend, which described in
a very graphic and touching way the yearly exhibition of the Society for
the Promotion of Window Gardening among the Poor. The exhibition was
held at the "Dean's close" at Westminster and the Earl of Shaftesbury
gave the prizes. [9]

No one of Mrs. Prentiss's smaller works, perhaps, has been so much
admired as _The Story Lizzie Told_. It was written at Dorset in the
course of a single day, if not at a single sitting; and so real was
the scene to her imagination that, on reading it in the evening to
her husband, she had to stop again and again from the violence of her
emotion. "What a little fool I am!" she would say, after a fresh burst
of tears. [10]

_To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Oct. 16, 1870._

Your letter came in the midst of the wear and tear of A.'s return to us.
We were kept in suspense about her from Monday, when she was due, till,
Friday when she came, and it is years since I have got so excited and
wrought up. They had a dreadful passage, but she was not sick at all.
Prof. Smith is looking better than I ever saw him, and we are all most
happy in being together once more. I can truly re-echo your wish that
you lived half way between us and Dorset, for then we should see you
once a year at least. I miss you and long to see you. How true it is
that each friend has a place of his own that no one else can fill! I do
not doubt that the 13th of October was a silvery wedding-day to your
dear husband. His loss has made Christ dearer to you, and so has made
your union more perfect. I suppose you were never so much one as you are

We have had a delightful summer, not really suffering from the heat;
though, of course, we felt it more or less. All our nights were cool....
I can not tell you how Mr. P. and myself enjoy our country home. It
seems as if we had slipped into our proper nook. But if we are going to
do any more brainwork, we must be where there is stimulus, such as we
find here. What a mixed-up letter! I have almost forgotten how to write,
in adorning my house and sowing my seeds and the like.

_To Mrs. Frederick Field, New York, Oct. 19th, 1870._

I deeply appreciate the Christian kindness that prompted you to write me
in the midst of your sorrow. I was prepared for the sad news by a dream
only last night. I fancied myself seeing your dear little boy lying very
restlessly on his bed, and proposing to carry him about in my arms to
relieve him. He made no objection, and I walked up and down with him a
long, long time, when some one of the family took him from me. Instantly
his face was illumined by a wondrous smile of delight that he was to
leave the arms of a stranger to go to those familiar to him--such a
smile, that when I awoke this morning I said to myself, "Eddy Field has
gone to the arms of his Saviour, and gone gladly." You can imagine how
your letter, an hour or two later, touched me. But you have better
consolation than dreams can give; in the belief that your child will
develop, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, into the perfect
likeness of Christ, and in your own submission to the unerring will of
God. I sometimes think that patient sufferers suffer most; they make
less outcry than others, but the grief that has little vent wears

"Grace does not steel the faithful heart
That it should feel no ill,"

and you have many a pang yet before you. It must be so very hard to see
twin children part company, to have their paths diverge so soon. But the
shadow of death will not always rest on your home; you will emerge from
its obscurity into such a light as they who have never sorrowed can not
know. We never know, or begin to know, the great Heart that loves us
best, till we throw ourselves upon it in the hour of our despair.
Friends say and do all they can for us, but they do not know what we
suffer or what we need; but Christ, who formed, has penetrated the
depths of the mother's heart. He pours in the wine and the oil that no
human hand possesses, and "as one whom his mother comforteth, so will He
comfort you." I have lived to see that God never was so good to me as
when He seemed most severe. Thus I trust and believe it will be with you
and your husband. Meanwhile, while the peaceable fruits are growing and
ripening, may God help you through the grievous time that must pass--a
grievous time in which you have my warm sympathy. I know only too well
all about it.

"I know my griefs; but then my consolations,
My joys, and my immortal hopes I know"--

joys unknown to the prosperous, hopes that spring from seed long buried
in the dust.

I shall read your books with great interest, I am sure, and who knows
how God means to prepare you for future usefulness along the path of
pain? "Every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring
forth more fruit."

What an epitaph your boy's own words would be--"It is beautiful to be

_To the Same, New York, Nov 30th, 1870._

I thank you so much for your letter about your precious children. I
remember them well, all three, and do not wonder that the death of your
first-born, coming upon the very footsteps of sorrow, has so nearly
crushed you. But what beautiful consolations God gave you by his dying
bed! "All safe at God's right hand!" What more can the fondest mother's
heart ask than such safety as this? I am sure that there will come to
you, sooner or later, the sense of Christ's love in these repeated
sorrows, that in your present bewildered, amazed state you can hardly
realise. Let me tell you that I have tried His heart in a long
storm--not so very different from yours--and that I know something of
its depths. I will enclose you some lines that may give you a moment's
light. Please not to let them go out of your hands, for no one--not even
my husband--has ever seen them. I am going to send my last book to your
lonely little boy. You will not feel like reading it now, but perhaps
the 33d chapter, and some that follow, may not jar upon you as the
earlier part would.

To go back again to the subject of Christ's love for us, of which I
never tire, I want to make you feel that His sufferers are His happiest,
most favored disciples. What they learn about Him---His pitifulness, His
unwillingness to hurt us, His haste to bind up the very wounds He has
inflicted---endear Him so, that at last they burst out into songs of
thanksgiving, that His "donation of bliss" included in it such donation
of pain. Perhaps I have already said to you, for I am fond of saying it,

"The love of Jesus---what it is,
Only His sufferers know."

You ask if your heart will ever be lightsome again. Never again with the
lightsomeness that had never known sorrow, but light even to gayety with
the new and higher love born of tribulation. Just as far as a heavenly
is superior even to maternal love, will be the elevation and beauty of
your new joy; a joy worth all it costs. I know what sorrow means; I know
it well. But I know, too, what it is to pass out of that prison-house
into a peace that passes all understanding; and thousands can say the
same. So, my dear suffering sister, look on and look up; lay hold on
Christ with _both your poor, empty hands_; let Him do with you what
seemeth Him good; though He slay you, still trust in Him; and I dare in
His name to promise you a sweeter, better life than you could have
known had He left you to drink of the full, dangerous cups of unmingled
prosperity. I feel such real and living sympathy with you, that I would
love to spend weeks by your side, trying to bind up your broken heart.
But for the gospel of Christ, to hear of such bereavements as yours
would appall, would madden one. Yet, what a halo surrounds that word

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Dec 14, 1870._

I have not behaved according to my wont, and visited the sick even by
way of a letter. And by this time I hope you are quite well again, and
do not need ghostly counsels.... I have felt very badly about Miss
Lyman's dying at Vassar, but since Mrs. S.'s visit and learning how
beloved she is there, have changed my mind. What does it matter, after
all, from what point of time or space we go home; how we shall smile,
after we get there, that we ever gave it one moment's thought! You ask
what I am doing; well, I am taking a vacation and not writing anything
to speak of, yet just as busy as ever; not one moment in which to
dawdle, though I dare say I seem to the folks here at home to be sitting
round doing nothing. I must give you a picture of one day and you must
photograph one of yours, as we have done before. Got up at seven and
went through the usual forms; had prayers and breakfast, and started off
to school with M. Came home and had a nice quiet time reading, etc.;
at eleven went to my meeting, which was a tearful one, as one of our
members who knelt with us only a week before, was this day to be buried
out of our sight. She was at church on Sunday afternoon at four P.M., to
present her baby in baptism, and at half-past two the following morning
was in heaven. We all went together to the funeral after the meeting,
and gathered round the coffin with the feeling that she belonged to us.
When I got home I found a despatch from Miss W., saying they should be
here right away. I had let one of my women go out of town to a sick
sister, so I must turn chamber-maid and make the bed, dust, clear out
closet, cupboard, and bureau forthwith. This done, they arrived, which
took the time till half-past seven, when I excused myself and went to an
evening meeting, knowing it would be devoted to special prayer for the
husband and children of her who had gone. Got home half an hour behind
time and found a young man awaiting me who was converted last June, as
he hopes, while reading Stepping Heavenward. I had just got seated by
him when our doctor was announced; he had lost his only grandchild and
had come to talk about it. He stayed till half-past nine, when I went
back to my young friend, who stayed till half-past ten and gave a very
interesting history which I have not time to put on paper. He writes
me since, however, about his Christian life that "it gets sweeter and
sweeter," and I know you will be glad for me that I have this joy.

_Saturday Morning._--I was interrupted there, had visitors, had to go to
a fair, company again, so that I had not time to eat the food I needed,
went to see a poor sick girl, had more visitors, and at last, at eleven
P.M., scrambled into bed. Now I am finishing this, and if nobody
hinders, am going to mail it, and then go after a block of ice-cream
for that sick girl (isn't it nice, we can get it now done up in little
boxes, just about as much as an invalid can eat at one time). Then I
am going to see a poor afflicted soul that can't get any light on her
sorrow. Here comes my dear old man to read his sermon, so good-bye.

_To a young Friend, Dec. 20, 1870._

I have been led, during the last month or two, to a new love of the Holy
Spirit, or perhaps to more consciousness of the silent, blessed work He
is doing in and for us? and for those whose souls lie as a heavy and
yet a sweet burden upon our own. And joining with you in your prayers,
seeking also for myself what I sought for you, I found myself almost
startled by such a response as I can not describe. It was not joy, but a
deep solemnity which enfolded me as with a garment, and if I ever pass
out of it, which I never want to do, I hope it will be with a heart more
than ever consecrated and set apart for Christ's service. The more
I reflect and the more I pray, the more life narrows down to one
point--What am I being for Christ, what am I doing for Him? Why do I
tell you this? Because the voice of a fellow-traveller always stimulates
his brother-pilgrim; what one finds and speaks of and rejoices over,
sets the other upon determining to find too. God has been very good to
you, as well as to me, but we ought to whisper to each other now and
then, "Go on, step faster, step surer, lay hold on the Rock of Ages with
both hands." You never need be afraid to speak such words to me. I want
to be pushed on, and pulled on, and coaxed on.

The allusion to her "beloved Fenelon," in several of the preceding
letters, renders this a suitable place to say a word about him and his
influence upon her religious character. "Fenelon I _lean_ on," she
wrote. Her delight in his writings dated back more than a quarter of a
century, and continued, unabated, to the end of her days. She regarded
him with a sort of personal affection and reverence. Her copy of
"Spiritual Progress," composed largely of selections from his works, is
crowded with pencil-marks expressive of her sympathy and approval; not
even her Imitation of Christ, Sacra Privata, Pilgrim's Progress, Saints'
Everlasting Rest, or Leighton on the First Epistle of Peter, contain so
many. These pencil-marks are sometimes very emphatic, underscoring or
inclosing now a single word, now a phrase, anon a whole sentence or
paragraph; and it requires but little skill to decipher, in these rude
hieroglyphics, the secret history of her soul for a third of a century--
one side, at least, of this history. What she sought with the greatest
eagerness, what she most loved and most hated, her spiritual aims,
struggles, trials, joys and hopes, may here be read between the lines.
And a beautiful testimony they give to the moral depth, purity and
nobleness of her piety!

The story is not, indeed, complete; her religious life had other
elements, not found, or only partially found, in Fenelon; elements
centering directly in Christ and His gospel, and which had their
inspiration in her Daily Food and her New Testament. What attracted her
to Fenelon was not the doctrine of salvation as taught by him--she found
it better taught in Bunyan and Leighton--it was his marvellous knowledge
of the human heart, his keen insight into the proper workings of nature
and grace, his deep spiritual wisdom, and the sweet mystic tone of his
piety. And then the two great principles pervading his writings--that
of pure love to God and that of self-crucifixion as the way to perfect
love--fell in with some of her own favorite views of the Christian
life. In the study of Fenelon, as of Madame Guyon, her aim was a purely
practical one; it was not to establish, or verify, a theory, but to get
aid and comfort in her daily course heavenward. What Fenelon was to her
in this respect she has herself recorded in the following lines, found,
after her death, written on a blank page of her "Spiritual Progress":

Oh wise and thoughtful words! oh counsel sweet,
Guide in my wanderings, spurs unto my feet,
How often you have met me on the way,
And turned me from the path that led astray;
Teaching that fault and folly, sin and fall,
Need not the weary pilgrim's heart appall;
Yea more, instructing how to snatch the sting
From timid conscience, how to stretch the wing
From the low plane, the level dead of sin,
And mount immortal, mystic joys to win.
One hour with Jesus! How its peace outweighs
The ravishment of earthly love and praise;
How dearer far, emptied of self to lie
Low at His feet, and catch, perchance, His eye,
Alike content when He may give or take,
The sweet, the bitter, welcome for His sake!

[1] John Wesley, after having pointed out what he considered the
grand source of all her mistakes; namely, the being guided by inward
impressions and the light of her own spirit rather than by the written
Word, and also her error in teaching that God never purifies a soul but
by inward and outward suffering--then adds: "And yet with all this dross
how much pure gold is mixed! So did God wink at involuntary ignorance.
What a depth of religion did she enjoy! How much of the mind that was in
Christ Jesus! What heights of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost! How few such instances do we find of exalted love to God,
and our neighbor; of genuine humility; of invincible meekness and
unbounded resignation! So that, upon the whole, I know not whether we
may not search many centuries to find another woman who was such a
pattern of true holiness."

[2] See the lines MY CUP RUNNETH OVER, _Golden Hours_, p. 43.

[3] "I know of no book, the Bible excepted as above all comparison,
which I, according to my judgment and experience, could so safely
recommend as teaching and enforcing the whole saving truth according to
the mind that was in Christ Jesus, as the Pilgrim's Progress. It is, in
my conviction, incomparably the best _summa theologiae evangelicae_ ever
produced by a writer not miraculously inspired. I read it once as a
theologian--and let me assure you, there is great theological acumen in
the work--once with devotional feelings, and once as a poet. I could
not have believed beforehand that Calvinism could be painted in such
exquisitely delightful colors."--COLERIDGE.

[4] The allusion is to Thekla's song in Part I., Act iii., sc. 7 of
Schiller's Wallenstein.

Du Heilige, rufe dein Kind zurueck!
Ich habe genossen das irdische Glueck,
_Ich habe gelebt und gelibet._

[5] The hymn referred to is Paul Gerhardt's, beginning:

Wir singen dir, Immanuel, Du Lebensfuerst und Gnadenquell.

It was one of her favorite German hymns. The lines she quotes belong to
the tenth stanza; "Ich kann nicht sagen Der Will ist da," are the words
pencilled in the margin.

[6] Hartley Coleridge's Poems. Vol. II., p. 139.

[7] But greatly to Mrs. Prentiss' annoyance, with the title changed to
_Ever Heavenward_--as if to make it appear to be a sequel to Stepping

[8] Wife of the late Rev. Horatio Brinsmade, D.D., of Newark, N. J.

[9] "Polly" was particularly happy; six years old, I should say, shabby,
though evidently washed up for the occasion, and very pretty and all
pink with excitement. "Polly, I _knowed_ you'd get a prize," I heard a
young woman, tired out with carrying her own big baby, say. And then she
came upon her own geranium with three blossoms on it and marked "Second
Prize," and said, "I _can't_ believe it," when they told her that that
meant six shillings. But the plant which my companion and myself both
cried over, was a little bit of a weedy marigold, the one poor little
flower on it carefully fastened about with a paper ring, such as high
and mighty greenhouse men sometimes put round a choice rose in bud. That
was all; just this one common, very single little flower, with "Lizzie"
Something's name attached and the name of her street. All the streets
were put upon the tickets and added greatly to the pathetic effect;
just the poorest lanes and alleys in London. Nobody seemed to claim
the marigold. Perhaps it was the great treasure of some sick child who
couldn't come to look at it. It was certain not to get a prize, but
the child has found something by this time tucked down in the pot and
carefully covered over by F., when no one was looking, with a pinch of
earth taken from a more prosperous plant alongside.

[10] Miss W. showed me a very pleasant letter of Lady Augusta Stanley,
the wife of Dean Stanley, to a Miss C., through whom she received from
Miss W.'s little niece a copy of _The Story Lizzie Told_. Lady Stanley
is herself, I believe, at the head of the Society which holds the annual
Flower Show. She says in her letter that she had just returned from
Scotland, reaching home quite late in the evening. Before retiring,
however, she had read your story through. She praises it very warmly,
and wonders how anybody but a "Londoner" could have written it.--_Letter
to Mrs. P., dated New York, September, 1872._



The letters in the preceding chapters give a glimpse, here and there,
of Mrs. Prentiss' home, but relate chiefly to the religious side of her
character. What was her manner of life among her children? How were her
temper and habits as a mother affected by the ardor and intensity of her
Christian feeling? A partial answer to these questions is contained in
letters written to her eldest daughter, while the latter was absent
in Europe. These letters show the natural side of her character; and
although far from reflecting all its light and beauty--no words could
do that!--they depict some of its most interesting traits. They are
frankness itself and betray not the least respect of persons; but if she
speaks her mind in them without much let or hindrance, it is always done
in the pleasantest way. In the portions selected for publication the aim
has been to let her be seen, so far as possible, just as she appeared in
her daily home-life, both in town and country.


Home-life in New York.

New York, _October_ 22, 1869.

I have promised to walk to school with M. this morning, and while I am
waiting for her to get ready, will begin my letter to you. We got home
from seeing you off all tired out, and I lay on the sofa all the time
till I went to bed, except while eating my dinner, and I think papa
did pretty much the same. The moment we had done dinner, H. and Jane
appeared, carrying your bureau drawer between them, and we had a great
time over the presents you were thoughtful enough to leave behind you.
My little sacque makes me look like 500 angels instead of one, and I
am ever so glad of it, and the children were all delighted with their

Well, I have escorted M. to school, come home and read the Advance, and
Hearth and Home, and it is now eleven o'clock and the door-bell has only
rung twice! Papa says you are out of sight of land, and as it is a warm
day and we are comfortable, we hope you are. But it is dreadful to have
to wait so long before hearing.

_23d._--Papa says this must be mailed by nine o'clock; so I have hurried
up from breakfast to finish it. Mr. and Mrs. S. spent most of last
evening with us. They shouted over my ferrotypes. Mr.---- also called
and expressed as much surprise at your having gone to Europe as if the
sky had fallen. I read my sea-journal to the children last evening, and
though it is very flat and meagre in itself, H., to whom it was all
brand new, thought it ought to be published forthwith. No time for
another word but love to all the S.'s, big and little, high and low,
great and small. Your affectionate Mammy.

_Oct. 28th._--I can hardly believe that it is only a week today that we
saw you and your big steamer disappear from view. H. said last night
that it seemed to him one hundred years ago, and we all said amen. So
how do you suppose it will seem ten months hence? I hope you do not find
the time so long. I take turns waiting upon the children to school,
which they are very strict about, and they enjoy their teachers

I received this morning a very beautiful and touching letter from a
young lady in England about the Susy books. They are associated in her
mind and those of her family with a "Little Pearlie" whose cunning
little photograph she enclosed, who taught herself to read in a
fortnight from one of them, and was read to from it on her dying bed,
and after she became speechless she made signs to have her head wet
as Susy's was. I never received such a letter among all I have had.
Randolph sent me twelve copies of Stepping Heavenward, and I have had
my hands full packing and sending them. M. is reading aloud to H. a
charming story called "Alone in London." I am sure I could not read it
aloud without crying.

The following is the letter from England:


I feel as if I had a perfect right to call you "My dear friend," so much
have I thought of you this last year and a half. Bear with me while I
tell you why. A year ago last Christmas we were a large family--father,
mother, and eight children, of whom I, who address you, am the eldest.
The youngest was of course the pet, our bright little darling, rather
more than five. That Christmas morning, of course, there were gifts for
all; and among the treasures in the smallest stocking was a copy of
"Little Susy's Six Teachers," for which I desire to thank you now. Many
times I have tried to do so, but I could not; the trouble which came
upon us was too great and awful in its suddenness. Little Pearl, so
first called in the days of a fragile babyhood--Dora Margaret was her
real name--taught herself to read from her "Little Susy," during the
first fortnight she had it. And she would sit for hours, literally,
amusing and interesting herself by it. She talked constantly of the
Six Teachers, and a word about them was enough to quell any rising
naughtiness. "Pearlie, what would Mr. Ought say?" or "Don't grieve Mrs.
Love," was always sufficient. Do you know what it is to have one the
youngest in a large family? My darling was seventeen years younger than
I. I left school when she was born to take the oversight of the nursery,
which dear mamma's illness and always delicate health prevented her from
doing. I had nursed her in her illnesses, dressed her, made the little
frocks--now laid so sadly by--and to all the rest of us she had been
more like a child than a sister. Friends used to say, "It is a wonder
that child is not spoiled"; but they could never say she _was_. Merry,
full of life and fun she always was, quick and intelligent, full of
droll sayings which recur to us now with _such_ a pain. From Christmas
to the end of February we often remarked to one another how good that
child was! laughing and playing from morning to night, yet never unruly
or wild. That February we had illness in the house. Jessie, the next
youngest, had diphtheria, but she recovered, and we trusted all danger
was passed, when one Monday evening--the last in the month--our darling
seemed ill. The next day we recognised the symptoms we had seen in
Jessie, and the doctor was called in. Tuesday and Wednesday he came and
gave no hint of danger, but on Wednesday night we perceived a change and
on Thursday came the sentence: No hope. Oh friend, dear friend! how can
I tell you of the long hours when we could not help our darling--of the
dark night when, forbidden the room from the malignity of the case, we
went to bed to coax mamma to do so--of the grey February dawn when there
came the words, "Our darling is _quite well_ now"--quite well, forever
taken from the evil to come.

The Sunday night before, she came into the parlor with "Susy" under her
arm and petitioned for some one to read the "Teachers' meeting." "Why,
you read it twice this afternoon," said one. "Yes, I know--but it's
so nice," was the reply. "Pearlie will be six in September," said the
gentle mother; "we must have a Teachers' meeting for her, I think." "But
perhaps I sha'n't ever be six," said the little one. "Oh Pearlie, why
do you say so?" "Well, people don't all be six, you know," affirmed our
darling with solemn eyes and two dimples in the rosy cheeks, that were
hid forever from us before the next Sabbath day.

On the Wednesday we borrowed from a little friend the other books of the
series, thinking they might afford some amusement for the weary hours of
illness, and Annie, my next sister, read four of the birthdays to her
and then wished to stop, fearing she might be too fatigued. "No, read
one more," was the request, and "That will do--I'm five, read the last
to-morrow," she said, when it was complied with. Ah me! with how many
tears we took up that book again. That Wednesday she sat up in bed, a
glass of medicine in her hand. "Mamma," she said, "Miss Joy has gone
quite away and only left Mr. Pain. She can't come back till my throat
is well." "But Mrs. Love is here, is she not?" "Oh, yes," and the dear
heavy eyes turned from one to another. In the night, when she lay
dying, came intervals of consciousness; in one of these she took her
handkerchief and gave it to papa, who watched by her, asking him to wet
it and put it on her head. When he told us, we recollected the incident
when Susy in the favorite book was ill. And can you understand how our
hearts felt very tender toward you and we said you must be thanked.
I should weary you if I told you all the incidents that presented
themselves of how sweet and good she was in her illness; how in the
agony of those last hours, when no fear of infection could restrain the
passionate kisses papa was showering on her, the dear voice said with a
stop and an effort between each word, "Don't kiss me on my mouth,
papa; you may catch it"; how everything she asked for was prefaced by
"please," how self was always last in her thoughts. "I'm keeping you
awake, you darling." "Don't stand there--you'll be so tired--sit down or
go down-stairs, if you like."

I will send you a photograph of little Pearlie; it is the best we have,
but was taken when she was only two years old. She was very small for
her age and had been very delicate until the last year of her life.

In writing thus to thank you I am not only doing an act of justice to
yourself, but fulfilling wishes now rendered binding. Often and often my
dear mamma said, "How I wish we knew the lady who wrote Little Susy!"
Her health, always delicate, never recovered from the shock of Pearlie's
death, and suddenly, on the morning of the first of May, the Angel of
Death darkened our dwelling with the shadow of his wings. Not long did
he linger--only two hours--and our mother had left us. She was with her
treasure and the Saviour, who said so lovingly on earth, "Come unto Me."

But words can not express such trouble as that. We have not realised it
yet. Forgive me if my letter is abrupt and confused. I have only desired
to tell you simply the simple tale--if by any chance it should make you
thank God more earnestly for the great gift He has given you--a holy
gift indeed; for can you think the lessons from "Susy," so useful and
so loved on earth, could be suddenly forgotten when the glories of heavens
opened on our darling's view? I can not myself. I think, perhaps, our
Father's home may be more like our human ones, where His love reigns,
than our wild hearts allow themselves to imagine; and I think the two,
on whose behalf I thank you now, may one day know you and thank you

Dear "Aunt Susan," believe me to be, your unknown yet grateful friend,


Mrs. Prentiss at once answered this letter, and not long after received
another from Miss L----, dated January 9, 1870, breathing the same
grateful feeling and full of interesting details. The following is an
extract from it:

I was so surprised, dear unknown friend, to receive your kind letter so
soon. Indeed, I hardly expected a reply at all. When I wrote to you, I
did not know that I was addressing a daughter of the "Edward Payson"
whose name is fragrant even on this side of the Atlantic. Had I known it
I think I should not have ventured to write--so I am glad I did not. If
you should be able to write again, and have a carte-de-visite to spare,
may I beg it, that I may form some idea of the friend, "old enough to be
my mother"? Are you little and slight, like my real mother, I wonder, or
stately and tall? I will send you a photograph of the monument which the
ladies of papa's church and congregation have erected to dear mamma, in
our beautiful cemetery, where the snowdrops will be already peeping, and
where roses bloom for ten months out of the twelve.

_Nov. 3d._--Here beginneth letter No. 3. We heard of your arrival at
Southampton by a telegram last evening. We long to get a letter. Before
I forget it let me tell you that Alice H. and Julia W. have both got
babbies. We are getting nicely settled for the winter; the children are
all behaving beautifully.

_Saturday, 6th._--Well, I have just been to see Mrs. F., and found her
a bright, frank young thing, fresh and simple and very pleasing. Her
complexion is like M----'s, and the lower part of her face is shaped
like hers, dark eyebrows, light hair, _splendid_ teeth, and I suppose
would be called very pretty by you girls. Take her altogether I liked
her very much. We hear next to nothing from Stepping Heavenward, and
begin to think it is going to fall dead.

_Monday, 14th._--Your Southampton letter has just come and we are
delighted to hear that you had such a pleasant voyage, and found so many
agreeable people on board.... Yesterday afternoon was devoted to hearing
a deeply interesting description from Dr. Hatfield, followed by Mr.
Dodge, of the re-union of the two Assemblies at Pittsburgh. Dr. H. made
us all laugh by saying that as the New School entered the church where
they were to be received and united to the Old School, the latter rose
and sang "Return, ye ransomed sinners, home!" Oh, I don't know but it
was just the other way; it makes no great difference, for as Dr. H.
remarked, "we're all ransomed sinners."

_Nov. 30th._--Mr. Abbot dined here on Sunday. He came in again in the
evening, and it would have done you good to hear what he said about the
children. They are all well and happy, and give me very little trouble.
I do not feel so well on the late dinner, and have awful dreams.----I
was passing the C----s, after writing the above, and she called me in to
see her new parlors. They are beautiful; a great deal of bright, rich
coloring, and various articles of furniture of his own designing.
_Thursday._----You and M. will be shocked to hear that Julia W. died
last night. As Mr. W. was at church on Sunday, we supposed all danger
was over. We heard it through a telegram sent to your father.

_December 4, 1869._--I need not tell you that we all remember that this
is your birthday, dear child, and that the remembrance brings you very
near. I wish I could send you, for a birthday present, all that I have,
this morning, asked God to give you. You may depend upon it, that while
some people may get along through life at a certain distance from Him,
_you_ are not one of that sort. You may find a feverish joy, but never
abiding _peace_, out of Him. Remember this whenever you feel the
oppression of that vague sense of unrest, of which, I doubt not, you
have a great deal underneath a careless outside; this is the thirst of
the soul for the only fountain at which it is worth while to drink. You
never will be really happy till Christ becomes your dearest and most
intimate friend. _7th._--We have had a tremendous fall of snow, and
Culyer says M. ought to wait an hour before starting for school, but she
is not willing and I am going with her to see that she is not buried
alive. Good-bye again, dearie! Will begin a new letter right away.

_Dec. 9th_--We went to see Mrs. W. this afternoon. Julia had typhoid
fever, which ran twenty-one days, and was delirious a good deal of the
time. She got ready to die before her confinement, though she said she
expected to live. After she became so very ill Mrs. W. heard her
praying for something "for Christ's sake," "for the sake of Christ's
_sufferings_," and once asked her what it was she was asking for so
earnestly. "Oh, to get well for Edward's sake and the baby's," she
replied. A few days before her death she called Mrs. W. to "come close"
to her, and said, "I am going to die. I did not think so when baby was
born, dear little thing--but now it is impressed upon me that I am."
Mrs. W. said they hoped not, but added, "Yet suppose you _should_ die,
what then?" "Oh I have prayed, day and night, to be reconciled, and I
am, _perfectly_ so. God will take care of Edward and of my baby. Perhaps
it is better so than to run the risk--" She did not finish the sentence.
The baby looks like her. Mrs. W. told her you had gone to Europe with
M., and she expressed great pleasure; but if she had known where _she_
was going, and to what, all she would have done would have been to give
thanks "for Christ's sake." I do not blame her, however, for clinging to
life; it was natural she should.

_10th_--We went, last evening, to hear Father Hyacinthe lecture on
"Charite" at the Academy of Music. I did not expect to understand a
word, but was agreeably disappointed, as he spoke very distinctly. Still
I did not enjoy hearing as well as I did reading it this morning--for
I lost some of the best things in a really fine address. It was a
brilliant scene, the very elite of intellectual society gathered around
one modest, unpretentious little man. Dr. and Mrs. Crosby were in the
box with us, and she, fortunately, had an opera glass with her, so that
we had a chance to study his really good face. The only book I expect to
write this winter is to you; I am dreadfully lazy since you left, and
don't do anything but haze about. There is a good deal of lively talk at
the table; the children are waked up by going to school, and there is
some rivalry among them, each maintaining that his and hers is the best.

_Dec. 15th._--We have cards for a "Soiree musicale" at Mrs. ----'s,
which is to be a great smash-up. She called here to-day and wept and
wailed over and kissed me. I have been to see how Mrs. C. is. She is a
little worse to-day, and he and her father scarcely leave her. He wrung
my hand all to pieces, poor man. Her illness is exciting great sympathy
in our church, and nobody seems willing to let her go. Dr. Adams spent
last evening here. He is splendid company; I really wish he would come
once a week. Everybody is asking if I meant in Katy to describe myself.
I have no doubt that if I should catch an old toad, put on to her a
short gown and petticoat and one of my caps, everybody would walk up
to her and say, "Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Prentiss, you look more like
yourself than common; I recognise the picture you have drawn of yourself
in Stepping Heavenward and in the Percys," etc., etc., etc., _ad
nauseam_. The next book I write I'll make my heroine black and everybody
will say, "Oh, here you are again, black to the life!"

_Dec. 18th._--You and M. will not be surprised to hear that Mrs. C.'s
sufferings are over. She died this morning. Papa and I are greatly
shaken. With much hesitation I decided to go over there to see her
mother, and the welcome I got from her and from Mr. C. are things to
remember for a life-time. I will never hesitate again to fly to people
in trouble. If you were here I would tell you all about my visit, but I
can't write it down. It seems so sad, just as they had got into their
lovely new home--sad for _him_, I mean; as for her I can only wish her
joy that she is not weeping here below as he is. I stayed till it was
time for church, and when I entered it I was met by many a tearful face;
papa announced her death from the pulpit, and is going, this afternoon,
to throw aside the sermon he intended to preach, and extemporise on "the
first Sunday in heaven." The children are going in, this noon, to sing;
as to the Mission festival, that is to be virtually given up; the
children are merely to walk in, receive their presents, and go silently
out. It is a beautiful day to go to heaven in. Mrs. C. did not know
she was going to die, but that is of no consequence. Only one week ago
yesterday she was at the Industrial school, unusually bright and well,
they all say. Well, I see everything double and had better stop writing.

_Monday, 20th._--Your nice letter was in the letter-box as I started for
school with H.; I called to papa to let him know it was there and went
off, begrudging him the pleasure of reading it before I did. When I got
home there was no papa and no letter to be found; I looked in every
room, on his desk and on mine, posted down to the letter-box and into
the parlor, in vain. At last he came rushing home with it, having
carried it to market, lest I should get and read it alone! So we sat
down and enjoyed it together.... I take out your picture now and then,
when, lo, a big lump in my throat, notwithstanding which I am glad we
let you go; we enjoy your enjoyment, and think it will make the old nest
pleasanter to have been vacated for a while. Papa and I agreed before
we got up this morning that the only fault we had to find with God was,
that He was too good to us. I can't get over the welcome I got from Mr.
C. yesterday. He said I seemed like a mother to him, which made me feel
very old on the one hand, and very happy on the other. If I were you I
wouldn't marry anybody but a minister; it gives one such lots of people
to love and care for. Old Mrs. B. is failing, and lies there as peaceful
and contented as a little baby. I never got sweeter smiles from anybody.
I have got each of the servants a pretty dress for Christmas; I feel
that I owe them a good deal for giving me such a peaceful, untroubled

_Dec. 23d._--It rained very hard all day yesterday till just about the
time of the funeral, half-past three, when the church was well filled,
the Mission-school occupying seats by themselves and the teachers by
themselves.... I thought as I listened to the address that it would
reconcile me to seeing you lying there in your coffin, if such a record
stood against your name. Papa read, at the close, a sort of prophetic
poem of Mrs. C.'s, which she wrote a year or more ago, of which I should
like to send you all a copy, it is so good in every sense. He wants me
to send you a few hasty lines I scribbled off on Sunday noon, with which
he closed his sermon that afternoon, and repeated again at the funeral,
but it is not worth the ink. After the service the mission children
went up to look at the remains, and passed out; then the rest of the
congregation. One of the mission children fainted and fell, and was
carried out in Mr. L.'s arms. After the rest dispersed papa took me in,
and there we saw a most touching sight; a dozen poor women and children
weeping about the coffin, offering a tribute to her memory, sweeter than
the opulent display of flowers did. _Evening._--The interment took place
to-day, at Woodlawn. Mr. C. wished me to go, and I did. On the way home
a gentlemanly-looking man stepped up to your father, and taking his hand
said, "I never saw you till to-day, but I _love_ you; yes, there is no
other word!" Wasn't it nice of him?

_Dec. 24th._--Papa went in last evening, for a half hour, to see ----
and his bride, at their great reception, drank two glasses of "coffee
sangaree," and brought me news that overcame me quite,--namely, that
---- was delighted with my book. Nesbit & Co. sent me a copy of their
reprint of it. They have got it up beautifully with six colored
illustrations, most of them very good; little Earnest is as cunning as
he can be, and the old grandpa is perfect. Katy, however, has her hair
in a waterfall in the year 1835 and even after, wears long dresses, and
always has on a _sontag_ or something like one. She goes to see Dr.
Cabot in a red sacque, and a red hat, and has a muff in her lap. Mrs.
---- was here the other day to say that I had drawn her husband's
portrait _exactly_ in Dr. Elliot. I have been out with M. all the
morning, doing up our last shopping. We came home half frozen, and had
lunch together, when lo, a magnificent basket of flowers from Mrs. D.
and some candy from the party; papa and G. came home and we all fell to
making ourselves sick.... I have bought lots of candy and little fancy
cakes to put in the children's stockings. I know it is very improper,
but one can't be good always. Dr. P. is sick with pneumonia. Mrs. P.
has just sent me a basket of fresh eggs, and an illustrated edition of
Longfellow's "Building of the Ship."

_25th._--I wish you a Merry Christmas, darling, and wonder what you
are all doing to celebrate this day. We have had great times over our
presents.... I got a note from Mr. Abbot saying that a friend of his in
Boston had given away fourteen Katies, all he could get, and that the
bookseller said he could have sold the last copy thirty times over.
Neither papa nor I feel quite up to the mark to-day; we probably got
a little cold at Mrs. C.'s grave, as the wind blew furiously, and the
hymn, and prayer, and benediction took quite a time.

_26th._--Dr. P. is worse. Papa has been to see him since church, and Dr.
B., who was there, said that Dr. Murray quoted from Katy in his sermon
to-day, and then pausing long enough to attract everybody's attention,
he said he wished each of them to procure and read it. I hope you and
Mrs. Smith won't get sick hearing about it; I assure you I don't tell
you half I might. _Evening_.--Mr. C. has been here this evening to
show us a poem by his wife, just come out in the January number of the
Sabbath at Home, in which she asks the New Year what it has in store
for her, and says if it is _death_, it is only going home the sooner.
Neither he, or anyone, had seen it or heard of it, and it came to them
with overwhelming power and consolation as the last utterance of her
Christian faith. [1]

_Dec. 30th, 1869._--Your letter came yesterday morning, after breakfast,
and was read to an admiring audience of Prentisses by papa, who
occasionally called for counsel as to this word and that. We like the
plan made for the winter, and hope it will suit all round. You had such
a grand birth-day that I don't see what there was left for Christmas,
and hope you got nothing but a leather button. My Percys end to-day, and
I am shocked at the wretched way in which I ended them. I wish you would
buy a copy of Griseldis for me. Why don't you tell what you are reading?
I got for M. "A Sister's Bye Hours," by Jean Ingelow, and find it a
delightful book; such lots of quiet humor and so much good sense and
good feeling; you girls would enjoy reading it aloud together.

_Jan. 3d, 1870._--You will want to hear all about New Year's day, and
where shall I begin unless at the end thereof, when your and Mrs.
Smith's letters came, and which caused papa ungraciously to leave me to
entertain, while he greedily devoured them and his dinner. In spite of
rain we had a steady flow of visitors. I will enclose a list for your
delectation, for as reading a cook-book sort of feeds one, reading
familiar names sort of comforts one. Mr. ---- was softer and more
languishing than ever, and appeared like a man who had been fed on honey
off the tips of a canary bird's feather.... Papa and I agreed, talking
it over last evening, that it is a bad plan for husbands and wives not
to live and die together, as the one who is left is apt to cut up. He
hinted that I was "so fond of admiration" that he was afraid I should,
if he died. On questioning him as to what he meant by this abominable
speech, he said he meant to pay me a compliment!!! that he thought
me very susceptible when people loved me and very fond of being
loved--which I am by him; all other men I hate. My cousin G. dined with
us on Friday and took me to the meeting held annually at Dr. Adams'
church. I like him ever so much, though he _is_ a man. G. has brought
me in some dandelions from the church-yard. We have not had one day
of severe cold yet, and there is a great deal of sickness about in

_Friday._--I spent a part of last evening in writing an article about
Mrs. C.'s poem for the Sabbath at Home, and have a little fit of
indigestion as my reward. Have been to see my sick woman with jelly and
consolation, and from there to Mrs. D., who gave me a beautiful account
of Mrs. Coming's last days and of her readiness and gladness to go. I
was at the meeting at Dr. Rogers' yesterday afternoon and heard old Dr.
Tyng for the first time, and he spoke beautifully.... Well, Chi Alpha
[2] is over; we had a very large attendance and the oysters were burnt.
It is dreadfully trying when Maria never once failed before to have them
so extra nice. Dr. Hall came and told me he had been sending copies of
Fred and Maria and Me to friends in Ireland. Martha and Jane, and M. and
H. were all standing in a row together when the parsons come out to tea,
and one of them marched up to the row, saying to papa, Are these your
children? when Martha and Jane made a precipitate retreat into the
pantry. Good-night, darling; lots of love to Mrs. Smith and all of them.
Your affectionate "Marm-er."

_11th._--Yours came to-day, and papa and I had a brief duel with
hair-pins and pen-knives as to which should read it aloud to the other,
and I beat. I should have enjoyed Eigensinn, I am sure; you know I have
read it in German.... The children all three are lovely, and what with
them and papa and other things my cup is running over tremendously. I
have just heard that a poor woman I have been to see a few times, died
this morning. I always came away from her crestfallen, thinking I was
the biggest poke in a sick-room there ever was, but she sent me a dying
message that quite comforted me. She had once lived in plenty, but was
fearfully destitute, and I fear she and her family suffered for want of
common necessaries.

_Thursday._--I had an early and a long call from one of our church, who
wanted to tell me, among other things, that her husband scolded her for
bumping her head in the night; she wept and I condoled; she went away at
last smiling. Then I went to the sewing circle and idled about till one;
then I had several calls. Then papa and I went out to make a lot of
calls. Then came a note from a sick lady, whom I shall go to see in
spite of my horror of strangers. Papa got a letter from Prof. Smith
which gave us great pleasure. Z. was here yesterday; I asked her to stay
to lunch, bribing her with a cup of tea, and so she stayed and we had a
real nice time; when she went away I told her I was dead in love with

_Friday Evening._--The children have all gone to bed; M. and G. have
been reading all the evening; M. busy on Miss Alcott's "Little Women,"
and G. shaking his sides over old numbers of the Riverside. Papa says
our house ought to have a sign put out, "Souls cured here"; because so
many people come to tell their troubles. People used to do just so to my
mother, and I suppose always do to parsons' wives if they'll let 'em.

_Monday._--Papa preached delightfully yesterday. Mr. B. took a pew and
Mr. I don't know who took another. Your letter came this morning and was
full of interesting things. I hope Mrs. S. will send me her own and Jean
Ingelow's verses. What fun to get into a correspondence with her! I have
had an interesting time to-day. Dr. Skinner lent me some months ago a
little book called "God's Furnace"; I didn't like it at first, but read
it through several times and liked it better and better each time. And
to-day Mrs. ---- brought the author to spend a few hours (she lives out
of town), and we three black-eyed women had a remarkable time together.
There is certainly such a thing as a heaven below, only it doesn't last
as the real heaven will. We had Mr. C. to tea last night; after tea he
read us three poems of his wife, and papa was weak enough to go and read
him some verses of mine, which he ought not to have done till I am dead
and gone. Then he played and sang with the children, and we had prayers,
and I read scraps to him and papa from Faber's "All for Jesus" and
Craig's Memoir. M. is lying on the sofa studying, papa is in his study,
the boys are hazing about; it snows a little and melts as it falls, and
so, with love to all, both great and small, I am your loving "ELDERLY

_February 8th, 1870._--We are having a tremendous snow-storm for a
wonder. I started out this morning with G., and when we got to the Fifth
avenue clock he found he should be late unless he ran, and I was glad
to let him go and turn back to meet M., who had heavy books besides her
umbrella. The wind blew furiously, my umbrella broke and flew off in a
tangent, and when I got it, it turned wrong side out and I came near
ascending as in a balloon; M. soon came in sight and I convoyed her
safely to school. Mrs. ---- told a friend of ours that Mr. and Mrs.
Prentiss really _enjoyed_ Mrs. C----'s death, and they seemed destitute
of natural affection; and that as for Mrs. P. it was plain she had never
suffered in any way. Considering the tears we both shed over Mrs. C.,
and some other little items in our past history, we must set Mrs. ----
down as wiser than the ancients.

_Sunday Evening._--Yesterday Lizzy B. came to say that her mother was
"in a gully" and wanted me to come and pull her out. I went and found
her greatly depressed, and felt sure it was all physical, and not a case
for special spiritual pulling. So I coaxed her, laughed at her, and
cheered her all I could. She said she had been "a solemn pig" for a
week, in allusion to some pictures Dr. P. had drawn for her and for me
illustrating the solemn pig and the jolly pig. Mr. Randolph has sent
up a letter from a man in Nice whose wife wants to translate Katy into
French. I sent word they might translate it into Hottentot for all me.
Good-night, my dear, I am sound asleep.

Your affectionate Mother PRENTISS.

_Tuesday._--On Sunday papa preached a sermon in behalf of the Mission,
asking for $35,000 to build a chapel, for which Mr. Cady had made a
plan. I got greatly stirred up, as I hope everybody did. Mr. Dodge will
give one-quarter of the sum needed. It is Washington's birthday, and the
children are all at home from school, and are at the dining-room table
drawing maps. Mr. and Mrs. G. called, but I was out seeing a poor woman,
whose romance of love and sorrow I should like to tell you about if it
would not fill a book. She says Bishop S. has supported her and her
three children for seven months out of his own pocket.

_Saturday, Feb. 26th._--Your two last letters, together with Mrs.
Smith's, were all in the box as I was starting with M. for her music. My
children pulled in opposite directions, but I pushed on, and papa saved
the letters to read to me when I got back. He reads them awfully, and
will puzzle over a word long enough for me to have leisure to go crazy
and recover my sanity. However, nobody shall make fun of him save
myself; so look out. The boys have gone skating to-day for the third
time this winter, there has been so little cold weather.

_Sunday Evening._--I did not mean to plague you with Stepping Heavenward
any more, but we have had a scene to-day which will amuse you and Mrs.
Smith. Just before service began, an aristocratic-looking lady seated in
front of Mrs. B. began to talk to her, whereupon Mrs. B. turned round
and announced to the congregation that I was the subject of it by
pointing me out, and then getting up and bringing her to our pew. Once
there, she seized me by the hand and said, "I am Mrs. ----. I have
just read your book and been carried away with it. I knew your husband
thirty-three years ago, and have come here to see you both," etc., etc.
Finding she could get nothing out of me, she fell upon M., and asked her
if I was her sister, which M. declared I was not. After church I invited
her to step into the parsonage, and she stepped in for an hour and told
this story: She had had the book lent her, and yesterday, lunching at
Mrs. A.'s, asked her if she had read it, and finding she had not, made
her promise to get it. She then asked who this E. Prentiss was, and a
lady present enlightened her. "What! my sister's beloved Miss Payson,
and married to George Prentiss, my old friend!! I'll go there to church
to-morrow and see for myself." So it turns out that she was a Miss ----,
of Mississippi; that your father gallanted her to Louisville, when she
was going there to be married at sixteen years of age; that she was
living in Richmond at the time I was teaching there, her sister boarding
in the house with me. Such talking, such life and enthusiasm you never
saw in a woman of forty-eight! "Well," she winds up at last, "I've found
two _treasures_, and you needn't think I'm going to let you go. I'll go
home and tell Mr. ---- all about it." Papa and I have called each other
"two treasures" ever since she went away. The whole scene worked him up
and did him good, for he always loves to have his Southern friends drum
him up and talk to him of your Uncle Seargent and Aunt Anna. Mr. ---- is
one of our millionaires, and she married him a year ago after thirteen
years of widowhood. She says she still has 200 "negroes," who won't
go away and won't work, and she has them to support. She talked very
rationally about the war, and says not a soul at the South would have
slavery back if they could.... I called at Mrs. B.'s yesterday--at
exactly the right moment, she said; for five surgeons had just decided
that the operation had been a failure, and that she must die. Her
husband looked as white as this paper, and the girls were in great
distress, but Mrs. B. looked perfectly radiant.

_Saturday, March 5th._--Yesterday I went to make a ghostly call on Mrs.
B., and kept her and the girls screaming with laughter for an hour,
which did me lots of good, and I hope did not hurt them. I have written
the 403d page of my serial to-day, and hope it is the last. It will soon
be time to think of the spring shopping. I don't know what any of us
need, and never notice what people are wearing unless I notice by going
forth on a tour of observation.

_Sunday Evening._--After church this afternoon Mrs. N. and Mrs. V. came
in to tell us about the death of that servant of theirs, whom they
nursed in their own house, who has been dying for seven months, of
cancer. She died a most fearless, happy death, and I wish I knew I
should be as patient in my last illness as they represent her as being.
Your letters to the children came yesterday afternoon to their great
delight. In an evil moment I told the boys that I had seen it stated, in
some paper, that _benzole_ would make paper transparent, and afterwards
evaporate and leave the paper uninjured. They drove me raving distracted
with questions about it, so that I had to be put in a strait-jacket. The
ingenuity and persistence of these questions, asked by each, in separate
interviews, was beyond description.

_Tuesday._--For once I have been caught napping, and have not mailed my
weekly letter. But you will be expecting some irregularity about the
time of your flight to Berlin. I called at Mrs. M.'s to-day, and ran on
at such a rate that Mrs. Woolsey, who was there, gave me ten dollars for
poor folks, and said she wished I'd stay all day. Afterwards I went down
town to get Stepping Heavenward for Mr. C., and as he wanted me to write
something in it, have just written this: "Mr. C. from Mrs. Prentiss,
in loving memory of one who 'did outrun' us, and stepped into heaven
first." Mr. Bates showed me a half-column notice of it in the Liberal
Christian, [3] of all places! by very far the warmest and best of all
that have appeared. Papa is at Dr. McClintock's funeral. I declare, if
it isn't snowing again, and the sun is shining! Now comes a letter from
Uncle Charles, saying that your Uncle H. has lost that splendid little
girl of his; the only girl he ever had, and the child of his heart of
hearts. Mrs. W. says she never saw papa and myself look so well, but
some gentleman told Mr. Brace, who told his wife, who told me, that I
was killing myself with long walks. I can not answer your questions
about Mr. ----'s call. So much is all the time going on that one event
speedily effaces the impression of another.

_March 12th._--Julia Willis spent the evening here not long ago, and
made me laugh well. She took me on Friday to see Fanny Fern, who hugged
and kissed me, and whom it was rather pleasant to see after nearly, if
not quite, thirty years' separation. She says nobody but a Payson could
have written Stepping Heavenward, which is absurd. _March 17th._--I went
to the sewing circle [4] and helped tuck a quilt, had a talk with Mrs.
W., got home at a quarter of one and ate two apples, and have been since
then reading the secret correspondence of Madame Guyon and Fenelon in
old French.

_Saturday, 19th._--Have just seen M. to the Conservatory; met Dr.
Skinner on the way home, who said he had been reading Stepping
Heavenward, and he hoped he should step all the faster for it. Z. has
often invited us to come to see her new home, and as the 16th comes on
a Saturday, we are talking a little of all going up to lunch with her.
_Evening_.--It has been such a nice warm day. I had a pleasant call from
Mrs. Dr. ----. She asked me if I did not get the theology of Stepping
Heavenward out of my father's "Thoughts," but as I have not read them
for thirty years, I doubt if I did, and as I am older than my father was
when he uttered those thoughts, I have a right to a theology of my own.

_Monday._--Yesterday, in the afternoon, we had the Sunday-school
anniversary, which went off very well. Mr. C. came to tea; after it and
prayers, we sat round the table and I read scraps from Madame Guyon
and Fenelon, and we talked them over. Papa was greatly pleased at the
latter's saying he often stopped in the midst of his devotions to play.

Quand je suis seul, je joue quelquefois comme un petit enfant, meme en
faisant oraison. Il m'arrive quelquefois de sauter et de rire tout seul
comme un fou dans ma chambre. Avant-hier, etant dans la sacristie
et repondant a une personne qui me questionnait, pour ne la point
scandaliser sur la question, je m'embarrassai, et je fis une espece de
mensonge; cela me donna quelque repugnance a dire la Messe, mais je ne
laissai pas de la dire.

I do not advise _you_ to stop to play in the midst of your prayers, or
to tell "une espece de mensonge!" till you are as much of a saint as he
was. [5]

_Saturday, 26th._--Your letter and Mrs. Smith's came together this
afternoon. It is pleasant to hear from papa's old friends at Halle, and
he will be delighted, when he comes home from Chi Alpha, where he is
now. Lizzy B. called this afternoon; she wanted to open out her poor
sick heart to me. She quoted to me several things she says I wrote her a
few weeks ago, but I have not the faintest recollection of writing them.
That shows what a harum-scarum life I lead.

_March 31st._--We spent Tuesday evening at the Skinners. We had a
charming visit; no one there but Mrs. Sampson and her sister, and Dr. S.
wide awake and full of enthusiasm. We did not get to bed till midnight.
Mrs. ---- came this morning and begged me to lend her some money, as she
had got behindhand. I let her have five dollars, though I do not feel
sure that I shall see it again, and she wept a little weep, and went
away. A lady told cousin C. she had heard I was so shy that once having
promised to go to a lunch party, my courage failed at the last moment,
so that I could not go. I shall expect to learn next that my hair is

_Monday, April 4th._--Your presents came Saturday while I was out. We
are all delighted with them, but I was most so, for two such darling
little vases were surely never before seen. M. had Maggie to spend
Saturday afternoon and take tea. She asked me if I did not make a
distinction between talent and genius, which papa thought very smart of
her. I read aloud to them all the evening one of the German stories by
Julius Horn. Mr. and Mrs. C. came in after church and I asked them to
stay to tea, which they did. After it was over, and we had had prayers,
we had a little sing, Mrs. C. playing, and among other things, sang a
little hymn of mine which I wrote I know not when, but which papa liked
well enough to have printed. If copies come to-day, as promised, I will
enclose one or two. After the singing papa and I took turns, as we could
snatch a chance from each other, in reading to them from favorite books,
which they enjoyed very much.

_April 9th._--We called on Mrs. H. M. Field yesterday, and I never saw
(or rather heard) her so brilliant. In the evening I read aloud to the
children a real live, wide-awake Sunday-school book, called "Old Stories
in a New Dress"; Bible stories, headed thus: "The Handsome Rebel," "The
Young Volunteer," "The Ingenious Mechanics."

_April 16th._--I can not go to bed, my dear chicken, till I have told
you what a charming day we have had. To go back to yesterday, my
headache entirely disappeared by the time the Skinners got here, and we
had a pleasant cosy evening with them, and at the end made Dr. Skinner
pray over us.... Everything went off nicely. The children enjoyed the
trip tremendously, and hated to come away. We picked a lot of "filles
avant la mere" and they came home in good condition. Mr. Woolsey and Z.
gave me a little silver figure holding a cup, on blue velvet, which
is ever so pretty. We got home at half-past six. Later in the evening
President Hopkins called to offer his congratulations. And now I am
tired, I can tell you. It is outrageous for you and the Smiths to be
away; I don't see how you can have the heart. You ought to come by
dispatch as telegrams.

_17th._--Dr. Hopkins preached a splendid sermon [6] for us this morning,
and came in after it for a call. He asked me last night if I felt
conceited about my book; so I said to him, "I like to give people as
good as they send--don't you feel a little conceited after that sermon?"
on which he gave me a good shaking.

_18th._--I have been writing notes of thanksgiving, each of which dear
papa reads through rose-colored spectacles and says, "You do beat all!"
I have enjoyed writing them, instead of finding it a bore. We shall be
curious to hear how you celebrated our wedding-day. Well, good-bye, old
child. I shall begin another letter to-day, as like as not.

_Monday, April 25th._--Friday morning, in the midst of my plans for
helping Aunt E. shop, came a message from Mrs. B. that she wanted to see
me. I had not expected to see her again, and of course was glad to go.
She had altered so that I should not have known her, and it was hard to
hear what she had to say, she is so feeble. She went back to the first
time she saw me, told me what I had on, and how her heart was knitted to
me. She then spoke of her approaching death; said she had no ecstasies,
no revelations, but had been in perfect peace, suffering agonies of
pain, yet not one pain too many. I asked her if she had any parting
counsel to give me. "No, not a word; I only wanted to see your sunny
face once more, and tell you what a comfort you have been to me in this
sickness." This all came at intervals, she was so weak. She afterward
said, "I feel as if I never was acquainted with Christ till now. I tell
my sons to become INTIMATELY ACQUAINTED with Him." I asked her if she
took pleasure in thinking of meeting friends in heaven. With a sweet,
somewhat comical smile, she said, "No, I haven't got so far as that. I
think only of meeting Christ." "For all that," I said, "you will soon
see my father and mother and other kindred souls." Her face lighted up
again. "Why, so I shall!" Her lips were growing white with pain while
this bright smile was on them, and I came away, though I should gladly
have listened to her by the hour, everything was so natural, sound,
and-heavenly. Shopping after it did not prove particularly congenial;
but we must shop, as well as die.

_April 29th._--Your first Dresden letter has just come; yes, it was long
enough, though you did not tell us how the cat did. You speak as if you
were going to Paris, but papa is positive you are not. Yesterday was a
lovely day, though very hot. Dr. Adams came and drove papa to the Park.
Late in the afternoon I went to see Mrs. G., the woman whose husband
is in jail. She is usually all in a muss, but this time was as nice as
could be, the floor clean and everything in order. The baby, a year old,
had learned to walk since I was last there, and came and planted herself
in front of me, and stared at me out of two great bright eyes most of
the time. I had a nice visit, as Mrs. G. seems to be making a good use
of her troubles. After I got home, Dr. and Mrs. C. arrived and we had
dinner and a tremendous thunder shower, after which he went out to make
forty-'leven calls. He was pleased to say that he wanted his wife to see
the lovely family picture we make! It is a glum, cold, lowering morning,
but the C.'s are going to see the Frenches at West Point, and Miss Lyman
at Vassar.

_Monday._--I went to Miss C.'s (the dressmaker) again to-day, and found
her much out of health, and about reducing her business and moving. One
of the old sisters had been reading Stepping Heavenward, and almost ate
me up. I got a pleasant word about it last night, from Mrs. General
Upton, who has just died at Nassau. I have seen Mrs. B. to-day; she did
not open her eyes, but besought me to pray for her release. She can't
last long. The boys are off rolling hoop again, and M. is out walking
with Ida. Papa informed me last night that I had got a very pretty
bonnet. The bonnets now consist of a little fuss and a good many
flowers. Papa has gone to Dorset, and has had a splendid day for his

_Thursday, May 12th._--Yesterday Miss ---- came to tell me about the
killing of her brother on the railroad, and to cry her very heart out on
my shoulder. In the midst of it came a note from Lizzy B., saying her
mother had just dropped away. I called there early this morning. We then
went to the Park with your uncle and aunt; after which they left and I
rushed out to get cap and collar to wear at Mrs. ----'s dinner. I got
back in time to go to the funeral at four P.M. Dr. Murray made an
excellent, appreciative address; papa then read extracts from a paper of
mine (things she had said), the prayer followed, and then her sons sang
a hymn. [7] I came home tired and laid me down to rest; at half-past six
it popped into my head that I was not dressed, and I did it speedily. We
supposed we were only to meet the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. ----, of Brooklyn,
but, lo! a lot of people in full dress. We had a regular state dinner,
course after course. Dr. ---- sat next me and made himself very
agreeable, except when he said I was the most subtle satirist he ever
met (I did run him a little). Mrs. ---- is a picture. She had a way of
looking at me through her eyeglass till she put me out of countenance,
and then smiling in a sweet, satisfied manner, and laying down her
glass. We came home as soon as the gentlemen left the table, and got
here just as the clock was striking twelve.

_Friday._--We began this day by going at ten A.M. to the funeral of Mrs.
W.'s poor little baby, and the first words papa read, "It is better
to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting," etc.,
explained his and my state of mind after last night's dissipation. He
made a very touching address. Later in the day we went out to see Miss
----, as we had promised to do. We went through the Park, lingered there
a while, and then went on and made a long call. When we rose to come
away, she said she never let people go away without lunch and made us
go down to the following: buns, three kinds of cake, pies, doughnuts,
cheese, lemonade, apples, oranges, pine-apples, a soup tureen of
strawberries, a quart of cream, two custard puddings, one hot and one
cold, home-made wine, cold corned beef, cold roast beef, and for aught I
know 40 other things. We came away awfully tired, and papa complained of
want of appetite at dinner!! Good-bye, dearie. I forgot to tell you the
boys have got a dog. He came of his own accord and has made them very
happy. We haven't let papa see him, you may depend.

_Wed., May 18th._--Papa is packing his trunk for Philadelphia, and I am
sitting at my new library table to write on my letter. I went yesterday
to see that lady who has fits. She had one in the morning that lasted
over an hour and a half. She is a very bright, animated creature and
does not look older than you.

_Thursday._--Papa got off yesterday at eleven for the General Assembly
and I went to Mrs. D.'s and stayed four hours. She sent for Mr. S.'s
baby, who does not creep, but walks in the quaintest little way. I shall
write a note to Mr. S., who feels anxious at its not creeping, fearing
its limbs will not be strong, to tell him that I hitched along exactly

Now let me give you the history of this busy day. We got up early and
Miss F. called with M.'s two dresses. After prayers and breakfast I
wrote to papa, went to school with H., and marketed. Came home and found
a letter from Cincinnati, urging for two hymns right away for a new
hymn-book. They had several of mine already. I said, "Go to, let us make
a hymn" (Prof. Smith in his Review) and made and sent them. Then I wrote
to Mr. S. and to Mrs. Charles W----. [8] Then Mrs. C. came and stayed
till nearly four, when she left and I went down to Twenty-second street
to call on a lady at the Water Cure. Then I went to see Mrs. C. (the
wife of the Rev. Mr. C.). I think I told you she had lost her little
Florence. I do not remember ever seeing a person so broken down by
grief; she seemed absolutely heart-broken. I could not get away till
five, and then I took two stages and got home as soon as I could,
knowing the children would be famishing. So now count up my various
professions, chaplain, marketer, hymnist, consoler of Mr. S., Mrs. W.,
Mrs. C., and let me add, of Dr. B., who came and made a long call. I am
now going to lie down and read till I get rested, for my brain has been
on the steady stretch for thirteen hours, one thing stepping on the
heels of another. [9]

_May 23d._--If your eyes were bright enough you might have seen me and
my cousin George P---- tearing down Broadway this afternoon, as if mad
dogs were after us. He wanted me to have a fountain pen, and the only
way to accomplish it was to take me down to the place where they are
sold, below the Astor House. I wanted to walk, and so did he, but he had
got to be on a boat for Norwich at five P.M. and pack up between while;
however, he concluded to risk it, hence the way we raced was a caution.
I have just written him a long letter in rhyme with my new pen, and now
begin one in prose to you. I have just got a letter from an anonymous
admirer of Stepping Heavenward, enclosing ten dollars to give away; I
wish it was a thousand! The children are in tribulation about their
kitten, who committed suicide by knocking the ironing-board on to

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