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

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going to do as the rest do, and then how'll you feel in your minds? And
when folks set themselves up against us, and won't let us have our own
way, why then "I tell my daughter

What _makes_ folks do as they'd oughter not,
And why _don't_ they do as they'd oughter?"

And we all pine away and die like the babes in the woods, and nobody's
left to cover us up with leaves. Send all these arguments home by
telegram, and your folks will shoot you if you dare to go. I could write
another sheet if it would do any good. Now do lay my words to heart, and
come right back.

_To Miss Morse, Dorset, Oct. 7, 1872._

I sent home my servants a month ago, and they have been getting the
parsonage to rights, while I have in their places two dear old souls who
came to live with me twenty years ago. One stayed ten years and then got
married, the other I parted with when my children died because I did
not need her. It has been a green spot in the summer to have these
affectionate, devoted creatures in the house. We have had only one
slight frost, but the woods have been gradually changing, and are in
spots very beautiful. We (you know what that word means) have been off
gathering bright leaves for ourselves and the servants, who care for
pretty things just as we do. Yet not a flower has gone; we have had a
host of verbenas and gladioli, some Japanese lilies, and so on, and have
been able to give some pleasure to those who have not time to cultivate
them for themselves. It has been a dreadful season for sickness here,
and flowers have been wanted in many a sick-room, and at some funerals.

Since I wrote you last "we" have been to Williamstown. I wanted to get
possession of my sister's private papers. Everything passed off nicely;
I burned a large amount and brought away a trunk full, a part of which I
have been reading with deep interest. Her journals date back to the age
of fifteen, though to read the early ones you would never dream of her
being less than twenty or thirty. She was a wonderful woman, and as
I found such ample material for a memorial of her life, I felt half
tempted to carry out her husband's wishes and complete one. But on the
whole I do not think I shall. You can imagine how my soul has been
stirred by the whole thing; the farewell to the familiar objects of
my childhood, the sense of a new race taking possession of her
conservatory, her shells, her minerals, her pictures, her German,
French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and Greek library--dear me! but
I need not enlarge on it to you. And how stupid it is not to forget it
all alongside of her ten years in heaven!

[1] "Especially after a time of some special seasons of grace, and some
special new supplies of grace, received in such seasons, (as after the
holy sacrament), then will he set on most eagerly, when he knows of the
richest booty. The pirates that let the ships pass as they go by empty,
watch them well, when they return richly laden; so doth this great
Pirate."--Archbishop Leighton, on I Peter, v. 8.

[2] "Cynegvius, a valiant Athenian, being in a great sea-fight against
the Medes, espying a ship of the enemy's well manned, and fitted for
service, when no other means would serve, he grasped it with his hands
to maintain the fight; and when his right hand was cut off, he held
close with his left; but both hands being taken off, he held it fast
with his teeth."

[3] The following lines found on one of its blank pages were written
perhaps at this time:

Precious companion! rendered dear
By trial-hours of many a year,
I love thee with a tenderness
Which words have never yet defined.

When tired and sad and comfortless,
With aching heart and weary mind,
How oft thy words of promise stealing
Like Gilead's balm-drops--soft and low.
Have touched the heart with power of healing,
And soothed the sharpest hour of woe.

[4] A friend writing to Mrs. Prentiss, under date of September 24, 1872,
refers to Lady Stanley's high praise of The Story Lizzie Told, and then
adds: "You must be so accustomed to friendly 'notices'--so almost bored
by them--that I hesitate to tell you of meeting another admirer of yours
in the person of Mrs. ----, of Philadelphia, who was indebted to you for
the return of a little text-book. She means to call on you some day, if
she is ever in New York, to thank you in person for that act of kindness
of yours, and for your 'Stepping Heavenward.' She is a daughter of the
late Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. Her mother, a staunch old Scotch
lady over 80, has just returned from Europe. Mrs. ---- is a very
interesting woman, of warm religious feelings and very outspoken. She
was the companion of the famous Mrs. H., of Philadelphia, all through
the war,--as one of the independent workers, or perhaps in connection
with the Christian Commission. She witnessed the battle of
Chancellorsville--a part of it at Mary's Heights, and has told me a
great deal that was thrilling--told as _she_ tells it--even at this
late day. She has the profoundest belief in what is called the 'work of
faith' by prayer and I don't believe she would shrink from accepting
Prof. Tyndall's challenge."

[5] From the "Power of the Cross of Christ."

[6] "Briefe an eine Freundin," a remarkable little book, full of light
and sweetness.

[7] Praying before others.

[8] Since the warning we had the other day that we may be snatched from
our children, ought we not to try to form some plan for them in case of
such an emergency? I can't account for it, that in those fearful moments
I thought only of them. I should have said I ought to have had some
thought of the world we seemed to be hurrying to. I suppose there was
the instinctive yet blind sense that the preparation for the next life
had been made for us by the Lord, and that, as far as that life was
concerned, we had nothing to do but to enter it. I shudder when I think
what a desolate home this might be to-day. Poor things! they've got
everything before them, without one experience and discipline!--_From a
letter to her husband, dated Dorset, Sept. 17, 1871._

[9] The Presence of Christ. Lectures on the XXIII. Psalm. By Anthony W.
Thorold, Lord Bishop of Rochester. A. D. F. Randolph & Co.

[10] Albert Hopkins was born in Stockbridge, Mass., July 14,1807. He
was graduated at Williams College in the class of 1826, and three years
later became Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the same
institution. Astronomy was afterward added to his chair. In 1834 he
went abroad. In the summer of 1835 he organised and conducted a Natural
History expedition to Nova Scotia, the first expedition of the kind in
this country. Two years later he built at his own expense, and in
part by the labor of his own hands, the astronomical observatory at
Williamstown. In this also, it is said, in advance of all others erected
exclusively for purposes of instruction. He was a devoted and profound
student, as well as an accomplished teacher, of natural science. But he
was still more distinguished for his piety and his religious influence
in the college. Hundreds of students in successive classes learned
to love and revere him as a holy man of God--many of them as their
spiritual father. The history of American colleges affords probably no
instance of a happier, or more remarkable, union of true science with
that personal holiness and zeal for God, by which hearts are won for
Christ. Full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, he did the work of an
evangelist for more than forty years--not in the college only, but all
over the town. During the last six years of his life he devoted himself
especially to the White Oaks--a district in the north-east part of
Williamstown-which had long before excited his sympathy on account of
the poverty, vice, and degradation which marked the neighborhood. He
identified himself with the population by buying and carrying on a small
farm among them. He also established a Sunday-school, and then he built
with the aid of friends a tasteful chapel, which was dedicated in
October, 1866. Later "the Church of Christ in the White Oaks" was
organised, and here, as his failing strength allowed, he preached and
labored the rest of his days.

Prof. Hopkins was an enthusiastic lover of nature. A few years before
his death he organised a society called "The Alpine Club," composed
chiefly of young ladies, with whom, as their chosen leader, he made
excursions summer after summer--camping out often among the hills. He
took them to many a picturesque nook and retreat, of which they had
never heard, in the mountains near by. He also explored with them other
interesting and remoter portions of northern Berkshire, and interpreted
to them on the spot the thoughts of God, as they appeared in the
infinitely varied and beautiful details of His works. In these
excursions he seemed as young as any of his young companions, with
feelings as fresh and joyous as theirs. In earlier years he was a very
grave man, with something of the old Puritan sternness in his looks and
ways, and he bore still the aspect of a homo gravis; but his gentleness,
his tender devotion to the gay young companions who surrounded him, and
the almost boyish delight with which he shared in their pleasures, took
away all its sternness and lighted up his strongly-marked countenance
with singular grace and beauty. In these closing years of his life he
was, indeed, the ideal of a ripe and noble Christian manhood. His name
is embalmed in the memory of a great company of his old pupils, now
scattered far and wide, from the White House at Washington to the
remotest corners of the earth.

P.S.--This was written soon after the inauguration of Gen. Garfield, to
whom allusion is made. His high regard for the venerable ex-President of
Williams College--the Rev. Dr. Mark Hopkins--he made known to the whole
country, but the younger brother was also the object of his warmest
esteem and love, and the feeling was heartily reciprocated. Nearly a
score of years ago, when he was just emerging into public notice from
the bloody field of Chickamauga, Prof. Hopkins spoke of him to the
writer in terms so full of praise and so prophetic of his future
career, that they seem in perfect harmony with the sentiment at once of
admiration and poignant grief which to-day moves the heart of the whole
American people--yea, one might almost say, which is inspiring all
Christendom.--_Saturday, Sept. 24, 1881._




Effect of spiritual Conflict upon her religious Life. Overflowing
Affections. Her Husband called to Union Theological Seminary. Baptism of
Suffering. The Character of her Friendships. No perfect Life. Prayer.
"Only God can satisfy a Woman." Why human Friendship is a Snare.

The trouble which had so long weighed upon her heart, crossed with her
the threshold of 1873, but long before the close of the year it had in
large measure passed away. Such suffering, however, always leaves its
marks behind; and when complicated with ill-health or bodily weakness,
often lingers on after its main cause has been removed. It was so in her
case; she was, perhaps, never again conscious of that constant spiritual
delight which she had once enjoyed. But if less full of sunshine, her
religious life was all the time growing deeper and more fruitful, was
centering itself more entirely in Christ and rising faster heavenward.
Its sympathies also became, if possible, still more tender and loving.
Her whole being, indeed, seemed to gather new light and sweetness from
the sharp discipline she had been passing through. Even when most tried
and tempted, as has been said, she had kept her trouble to herself; few
of her most intimate friends knew of its existence; to the world she
appeared a little more thoughtful and somewhat careworn, but otherwise
as bright as ever. But now, at length, the old vivacity and playfulness
and merry laugh began to come back again. Never did her heart glow with
fresher, more ardent affections. In a letter to a young cousin, who was
moving about from place to place, she says:

I shall feel more free to write often, if you can tell me that the
postmaster at C. forwards your letters from the office at no expense to
you, as he ought to do. It is very silly in me to mind your paying three
cents for one of my love-letters, but it's a Payson trait, and I can't
help it, though I should be provoked enough if you _did_ mind paying a
dollar apiece for them. There's consistency for you! Well, I know, and
I'm awfully proud of it, that you'll get very few letters from as loving
a fountain as my heart is. I've got enough to drown a small army--and
sometimes when you're homesick, and cousin-Lizzy-sick, and friend-sick,
I shall come to you, done up in a sheet of paper, and set you all in a

Her letters during the first half of this year were few, and relate
chiefly to those aspects of the Christian life with which her own
experience was still making her so familiar. "God's plan with most of
us," she wrote to Mrs. Humphrey, "appears to be a design to make us
flexible, twisting us this way and that, now giving, now taking; but
always at work for and in us. Almost every friend we have is going
through some peculiar discipline. I fancy there is no period in our
history when we do not _need_ and _get_ the sharp rod of correction. The
thing is to grow strong under it, and yet to walk softly." "I do not
care how much I suffer," she wrote to a friend, "if God will purge and
purify me and fit me for greater usefulness. What are trials but angels
to beckon us nearer to Him! And I do hope that mine are to be a blessing
to some other soul, or souls, in the future. I can't think suffering is
meant to be wasted, if fragments of bread created miraculously, were
not." She studied about this time with great interest the teaching of
Scripture concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The work of the
Spirit had not before specially occupied her thoughts. In her earlier
writings she had laid but little stress upon it--not because she
doubted its reality or its necessity, but because her mind had not been
led in that direction. Stepping Heavenward is full of God and of Christ,
but there is in it little express mention of the Spirit and His peculiar
office in the life of faith. When this fact was brought to her notice
she herself appeared to be surprised at it, and would gladly have
supplied the omission. To be sure, there is no mention at all of the
Holy Spirit in several of the Epistles of the New Testament; but a
carefully-drawn picture of Christian life and progress, like Stepping
Heavenward, would, certainly, have been rendered more complete and
attractive by fuller reference to the Blessed Comforter and His
inspiring influences.

_To a young Friend, New York, Jan. 8, 1873._

I feel very sorry for you that you are under temptation. I have been
led, for some time, to pray specially for the tempted, for I have
learned to pity them as greater sufferers than those afflicted in any
other way. For, in proportion to our love to Christ, will be the agony
of terror lest we should sin and fall, and so grieve and weary Him. "One
sinful wish could make a hell of heaven"; strong language, but not too
strong, to my mind. I can only say, suffer, but do not yield. Sometimes
I think that silent, submissive patience is better than struggle. It is
sweet to be in the sunshine of the Master's smile, but I believe our
souls need winter as well as summer, night as well as day. Perhaps not
to the end; I have not come to that yet, and so do not know; I speak
from my own experience, as far as it goes. Temptation has this one good
side to it: it keeps us _down_; we are ashamed of ourselves, we see we
have nothing to boast of. I told you, you will perhaps remember, that
you were going to enter the valley of humiliation in which I have dwelt
so long, but I trust we are only taking it in our way to the land of
Beulah. And how we "pant to be there"! What a curious friendship ours
has been! and it is one that can never sever--unless, indeed, we fall
away from Christ, which may He in mercy forbid!... I do pray for you
twice every day, and hope you pray for me. I do long so to know the
truth and to enter into it. Certainly I have got some new light during
the last year, in the midst of my trials, both within and without.

To another young friend she writes a few days later:

I remember when I was, religiously, at your age I was longing for
holiness, but my faith staggered at some of the conditions for it. I had
no conception, much as Christ was to me, what He was going to become.
But I wish I could make you a birth-day present of my experience since
then, and you could have Him now, instead of learning, as I had to learn
Him, in much tribulation.

_To Mrs. Condict, Jan. 15, 1873._

I have been meaning, for some days, to write you about the
Professorship. [1] It is a new one, and is called "the Skinner and
McAlpine" chair, and Mr. Prentiss says there could not be a more
agreeable field of usefulness. It is most likely that he will feel it
to be his duty to accept. As to myself, I am about apathetic on the
subject. My will has been broken over the Master's knee, if I may use
such an expression, by so much suffering, that I look with indifference
on such outward changes. We can be made willing to be burnt alive, if
need be. For four or five years to come I shall not be obliged to leave
the church I love so dearly; if the Seminary is moved out to Harlem, it
will be different; but it is not worth while to think of that now.
It seems to me that Mr. P. has reached an age when, never being very
strong, a change like this may be salutary. _February 3d._--You will be
sorry to hear that dear Mrs. C. is quite sick. Her daughters are all
worn out with the care of her. I was there all day Saturday, but I can
do nothing in the way of night watching; nor much at any time. A very
little over-exertion knocks me up this winter. It is just as much as
I can do to keep my head above water.... Sometimes I think that the
_dreadful_ experience I have been passing through is God's way of
baptizing me; some _have_ to be baptized with suffering. Certainly He
has been sitting as the Refiner, bringing down my pride, emptying me of
this and that, and not leaving me a foot to stand on. If it all ends in
sanctification I don't care what I suffer. Though cast down, I am not in

It is an encouragement to hear Mahan compare states of the soul to
house-cleaning time. [2] It is just so with me. Every chair and table,
every broom and brush is out of place, topsy-turvy.... But I can't
believe God has been wasting the last two years on me; I can't help
hoping that He is answering my prayer, my cry for holiness--only in a
strange way. Dr. and Mrs. Abbot spent Sunday and Monday with us a week
ago, and I read to them Dr. Steele's three tracts and lent them Mahan.
They were much interested, but I do not know how much struck. I can not
smile, as some do, at Dr. Steele's testimony. I believe in it fully and
heartily. If I do not know what it is to "find God real," I do not know
anything. Never was my faith in the strongest doctrines of Christianity
stronger than it is now.

_Feb. 13th._--I spent part of yesterday in reading Stepping Heavenward!
You will think that very strange till I add that it was in German; and,
as the translator has all my books, I wanted to know whether she had
done this work satisfactorily before authorising her to proceed with the
rest. She has omitted so much, that it is rather an abridgment than a
translation; otherwise it is well done. But she has so purged it of
vivacity, that I am afraid it will plod on leaden feet, if it plods at
all, heavenward. And now I must hurry off to my sewing-circle.

_To a young Friend, April 4, 1873._

I want to correct any mistaken impression I have made on you in
conversation. The utmost I meant to say was, that I had got new light
intellectually, or theologically, on the subject of the working of the
Spirit. In the sense in which I use the words "baptism of the Holy
Ghost," I certainly do not consider that I have received it. I think
it means _perfect consecration_.... Thus far, no matter what people
profess, I have never come into close contact with any life that I did
not find more or less imperfect. I find, in other words, the best human
beings fallible, and _very fallible_. The best I can say of myself is,
that I see the need of _immense_ advances in the divine life. I find it
hard to be patient with myself when I see how far I am from reaching
even my own poor standard; but if I do not love Christ and long to
please Him, I do not love anybody or anything. And if I have talked less
to you on these sacred subjects this winter, it has been partly owing
to my seeing less of you, and an impalpable but real barrier between us
which I have not known how to account for, but which made me cautious in
pushing religion on you. Young people usually have their ups and
downs and fluctuations of feeling before they settle down on to fixed
_principles_, paying no regard to feeling, and older Christians should
bear with them, make allowance for this, and never obtrude their own
views or experiences. I think you will come out all right. Satan will
fight hard for you, and perhaps for a time get the upper hand; but I
believe the Lord and Master will prevail. Perhaps we are never dearer to
Him than when the wings on which we once _flew_ to Him, hang drooping
and broken at our side, and we have to make our weary way on foot.

I am always thankful to have my heart stirred and warmed by Christian
letters or conversation; always glad to see any signs of the presence
of the Holy Spirit at work in a human soul. But never force yourself to
write or talk of spiritual things; try rather to get so full of Christ
that mention of Him shall be natural and spontaneous.

_To the Same, April 15, 1873._

I have just been reading the sermon of Dr. Hopkins on prayer you sent
me. It sounds just like him. I think his brother and mine (by marriage)
would have treated the subject just as logically and far more
practically; still, under the circumstances, that was not desirable.
As to myself, I would rather have the simple testimony of some unknown
praying woman, who is in the habit of "_waiting_" on God, than all the
theological discussions in the world. The subject, as you know, is one
of deep interest to me.

I have not answered your letter, because I was not quite sure what it
was best to say. During the winter I was not sure what had come between
us, and thought it best to let time show; and I have been harassed and
perplexed by certain anxieties, with which it did not seem necessary to
trouble you, to a degree that may have given me a preoccupied manner.
There have been points where I wanted a divine illumination which I did
not get. I wanted to hear, "This is the way, walk in it"; but that word
has not come yet, and almost all my spiritual life has been running in
that one line, keeping me, necessarily, out of sympathy with everybody.
As far as this has been a fault, it has reacted upon you, to whom I
ought to have been more of a help. But I can say that it delights me to
see you even trying to take a step onward, and to know that while still
young, and with the temptations of youth about you, you have set
your face heavenward. Your temptations, like mine, are through the
affections. "Only God can satisfy a woman"; and yet we try, every now
and then, to see if we can't find somebody else worth leaning on. _We
never shall_, and it is a great pity we can not always realise it. I
never deliberately make this attempt now, but am still liable to fall
into the temptation. I am _sure_ that I can never be really happy and
at rest out of or far from Christ, nor do I want to be. Getting new
and warm friends is all very well, but I emerge from this snare into a
deepening conviction that I must learn to say, "None but Christ."...
Now, dear ----, it is a dreadful thing to be cold towards our best
Friend'; a calamity if it comes upon us through Satan; a sin and folly
if it is the result of any fault or omission of our own. There is but
one refuge from it, and that is in just going to Him and telling Him all
about it. We can not force ourselves to love Him, but we can ask Him to
_give_ us the love, and sooner or later He _will_. He may seem not to
hear, the answer may come gradually and imperceptibly, but it will
come. He has given you one friend at least who prays for your spiritual
advance every day. I hope you pray thus for me. Friendship that does not
do that is not worth the name. _April 17th_.--Of course, I'll take the
will for the deed and consider myself covered with "orange blossoms,"
like a babe in the wood. And it is equally of course that I was married
with lots of them among my lovely auburn locks, and wore a veil in point
lace twenty feet long.

I have had several titles given me in Dorset--among others, a "child of
nature"--and last night I was shown a letter in which (I hope it is
not wicked to quote it in such a connexion) I am styled "a Princess in
Christ's Kingdom." Can you cap this climax?

* * * * *


Goes to Dorset. Christian Example. At Work among her Flowers. Dangerous
Illness. Her Feeling about Dying. Death an "Invitation" from Christ.
"The Under-current bears _Home_." "More Love, More love!" A Trait of
Character. Special Mercies. What makes a sweet Home. Letters.

Early in June, accompanied by the three younger children, she went to
Dorset. This change always put her into a glow of pleasurable emotion.
Once out of the city, she was like a bird let loose from its cage. In a
letter to her husband, dated "Somewhere on the road, five o'clock
P.M.," she wrote: "M. is laughing at me because, Paddy-like, I proposed
informing you in a P. S. that we had reached Dorset; as if the fact of
mailing a letter there could not prove it. So I will take her advice and
close this now. I feel that our cup of mercies is running over. We ought
to be ever so good! And I _am_ ever so loving!" "We are all as gay as
larks," she wrote a few days later; and in spite of heat, drought,
over-work and sickness, she continued in this mood most of the summer.
But while "gay as a lark," she was also grave and thoughtful. Her
delight in nature seemed only to increase her interest in divine things
and her longing to be like Christ. In a letter to one of her young
friends, having spoken of prayer as "the greatest favor one friend can
render another," she adds:

But perhaps I may put one beyond it--Christian example. I ought to be so
saintly, so consecrated, that you could not be with me and not catch the
very spirit of heaven; never get a letter from me that did not quicken
your steps in the divine life. But while I believe the principle of love
to Christ is entrenched in the depths of my soul, the emotion of love is
hot always in that full play I want it to be. No doubt He judges us
by the principle He sees to exist in us, but we can't help judging
ourselves, in spite of ourselves, by our feelings. At church this
morning my mind kept wandering to and fro; I thought of you about twenty
times; thought about my flowers; thought of 501 other things; and then
got up and sang

"I love Thy kingdom, Lord,"

as if I cared for that and nothing else. What He has to put up with in
me! But I believe in Him, I love Him, I hate everything in my soul and
in my life that is unlike Him. I hope the confession of my shortcomings
won't discourage you; it is no proof that at my age you will not be far
beyond such weakness and folly as often carry me away captive.... As far
as earthly blessings go I am as near perfect happiness as a human being
can be; everything is _heaped_ on me. What I want is more of Christ, and
that is what I hope you pray that I may have.

To another young friend she writes, June 12th:

We have varied experiences, sick or well, and the discipline of a heart
not perfectly satisfied with what it gets from God, often alternates
with the peace of which you speak as just now yours. What a blessed
thing this "very peace of God" is! There is no earthly joy to be
compared with it. But to go patiently on without it, when it is not
given, is, I think, a great achievement; for instance, if I held no
communication with you for a year, would it not be a wonderful proof of
your love to and faith in me, if you kept on writing me and telling me
your joys and trials? To go back--I have been a good deal confused by
the contradictory testimony of different Christians, and am driven more
and more to a conviction that human beings, _at the best_, are very
fallible. We must get our light directly from on high. At the same
time we influence each other for right or for wrong, and one who is
thoroughly upright and true, will, unconsciously, influence and help
those about him.... I am enjoying, as I always do, having the three
younger children close about me here, and all sleeping on my floor. We
are really like _four_ children, continually frolicking together. We are
all crowded now into my den, and I wish you were here with us to be the
"_fifth_ kitten." Did you ever read that story?

_To Mrs. Catherine G. Leeds, Dorset, July 12, 1873._

It was ever so kind in you to let us share in your relief and pleasure,
and we unite in affectionate congratulations to you all. I do hope this
new and precious treasure will be spared to his dear mother, and grow
up to be her stay and staff years hence. It is the nicest thing in
the world to have a baby. What marvels they are in every respect, but
especially in their royal power over us!

In spite of the dry weather we have had a pleasant summer, so far. Just
before we entirely burned up and turned to tinder, showers came to our
relief, and our gardens are putting on some faint smiles and making
some promises. I did not allow a drop of water to be wasted for weeks;
dish-water, soap-suds, dairy water, everything went to my flower-beds,
and each night, after Mr. Prentiss came, a barrel-full was carted up
from the pond for me; how many the rest used I don't know. Disposing of
such a load has not been blessed to my health, and I have had to draw in
my horns a little, but M. and I work generally like two day-laborers
for the wages we get, and those wages are flowers here, there and
everywhere, to say nothing of ferns, brakes, mosses, scarlet berries,
and the like. And when flowers fail we fall back on different shades of
green; the German ivy being relieved by a background of dark foliage,
or light grasses against grave ones; and when we hit on any new
combination, each summons the other to be lost in admiration. And when
we are too sore and stiff from weeding, grass-shearing or watering, we
fall to framing little pictures, or to darning stockings, which she
does so beautifully that it has become a fine art with her, or I betake
myself to the sewing-machine and stitch for legs that seem to grow long
by the minute.

What the rest of the family are about meanwhile, I can not exactly say.
Mr. Prentiss sits in a chair with an umbrella over his head, and pulls
up a weed now and then, and then strolls off with a straw in his mouth;
he also drives off sometimes on foraging expeditions, and comes back
with butter, eggs, etc., and on hot days takes a bath where a stream of
cold water dashes over him; "splendid" he says, and "horrid" I say.
The boys are up to everything; they are carpenters, and plumbers, and
trouters, and harnessers, and drivers; H. has just learned to solder,
and saves me no little trouble and expense by stopping leakages;
heretofore every holey vessel had to be sent out of town. Both boys have
gardens and sell vegetables to their father at extraordinary prices, and
they are now filling up a deep ditch 500 feet long at a "York shilling"
an hour--men get a "long shilling" and do the work no better. With the
money thus made they buy tools of all sorts, seeds and fruit trees,
but no nonsense. Three happier children than these three can not be

You may be interested, too, to know what are the famous works of art we
are framing, as above referred to. Well, photographs of our kindred
and friends for one thing: my brothers, my husband's mother and other
relatives of his, Prof. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. B. B., and so on,
a good deal as it has happened, for everybody hasn't been photographed;
and some bodies have not given us their pictures--you, for instance, and
if you want to be hung as high as Haman in my den, nine feet square,
where I write, why, you can. Last summer I had a mania for illuminating,
and made about a cord of texts and mottoes; I can't paint, so I cut
letters out of red, blue and black paper, and deceived thereby the very
elect, for even Mrs. Washburn was taken in, and said they were painted

Your little note has drawn large interest, hasn't it? Well, it deserved
its fate.

Hardly had she finished this letter when she was taken very ill. For a
while it seemed as if the time of her departure had come. At her request
the children were called to her bedside, and she gave them in turn her
dying counsels, bade them live for Christ as the only true, abiding
good, and then kissed each of them good-bye. She was much disappointed
on finding that her sickness, after all, was not an "invitation" from
the Master. "You don't get away _this_ time," said her husband to her,
half playfully, half exultingly, referring to her eagerness to go.

And here it may not be amiss to say a word as to her state of mind
respecting death. After her release her husband thus described it to a

Her feeling about dying seemed to me to be almost unique. In all my
pastoral experience, at least, I do not recall another case quite like
it. Her faith in a better world, that is, a heavenly, was quite as
strong as her faith in God and in Christ; she regarded it as the true
home of the soul; and the tendency of a good deal of modern culture to
put _this_ world in its place as man's highest sphere and end, struck
her as a mockery of the holiest instincts at once of humanity and
religion. Death was associated in her mind with the instant realisation
of all her sweetest and most precious hopes. She viewed it as an
invitation from the King of Glory to come and be with Him. During the
more than three-and-thirty years of our married life I doubt if there
was ever a time when the summons would have found her unwilling to go;
rarely, if ever, a time when she would not have welcomed it with great
joy. On putting to her the question, "Would you be ready to go _now?_"
she would answer, "Why, yes," in a tone of calm assurance, rather of
visible delight, which I can never forget. And during all her later
years her answer to such a question would imply a sort of astonishment,
that anybody could ask it. So strong, indeed, was her own feeling about
death as a real boon to the Christian, that she was scarcely able, I
think, fully to sympathise with those who regarded it with misgiving
or terror. The point may be illustrated, perhaps, by referring to her
perfect fearlessness and repose in the midst of the most terrific
thunder-storm. No matter how vivid the lightning's flashes or how near
and loud the claps that followed, they affected her nerves as little as
any summer breeze--scarcely ever awaking her if asleep, or hindering her
from going to sleep if awake. And so it was with regard to the terrors
of death. But not merely was there an absence of all apparent dread of
death, but an exulting joy in the thought of it. There is a passage
in The Home at Greylock, which was evidently inspired by her own
experience. It is where old Mary, when her first wild burst of grief was
over, said:

Sure she's got her wish and died sudden. She was always ready to go, and
now she's gone. Often's the time I've heard her talk about dying, and I
mind a time when she thought she was going, and there was a light in her
eye, and "What d'ye think of that?" says she. I declare it was just as
she looked when she says to me, "Mary, I'm going to be married, and what
d'ye think of that?" says she.

This feeling about death is the more noteworthy in her case because of
her very deep, poignant sense of sin and of her own unworthiness.

_To a Friend, Dorset, July 27, 1873._

This is my third Sunday home from church. I have been confined to my bed
only about a week, but it took me some days to run down to that point,
and now it is taking some to run me up again. I had two or three very
suffering days and nights, and the doctor was here nearly all of one
day and night, but was very kind, understood my case and managed it
admirably. He is from Manchester and is son of a missionary. [3]

You speak in your letter of being oppressed by the heat, and wearied by
visitors, and say that prayer is little more than uttering the name of
Jesus. I have asked myself a great many times this summer how much that

"All I can utter sometimes is Thy name!"

This line expresses my state for a good while. Of course getting out
of one house into another and coming up here, all in the space of one
month, was a great tax on time and strength, and all my regular habits
_had_ to be broken up. Then before the ram was put in I over-exerted
myself, unconsciously, carrying too heavy pails of water to my
flower-beds, and so broke down. For some hours the end looked very near,
but I do not know whether it was stupidity or faith that made me so
content to go. I am afraid that a good deal of what passes for the one
is really the other. Fortunately for us, our faith does not entitle us
to heaven any more than our stupidity shuts us out of it; when we get
there it will be through Him who loved us. But if I may judge by the
experience of this little illness, our hearts are not so tied to or in
love with this world as we fear. We make the most of it as long as we
_must_ stay in it; but the under-current bears _home_.

The following extract from a letter to a young relative, dated Sept.
23d, furnishes at once a key to several marked traits of her character
and a practical comment upon her own hymn, "More love to Thee, O

I had no right to leave my friend undefended. I prayed to do it aright.
If I did not I am not ashamed to say I am sorry for it, and ask you to
forgive me. And if I were twice as old as I am, and you twice as young,
I would do it. I will not tolerate anything wrong in myself. I hate, I
hate sin against my God and Saviour, and sin against the earthly friends
whom I love with such a passionate intensity that they are able to wring
my heart out, and always will be, if I live to be a hundred.... People
who feel strongly express themselves strongly; vehemence is one of
my faults. Let us pray for each other. We have great capacities for
enjoyment, but we suffer more keenly than many of our race. I have been
an intense sufferer in many ways; the story would pain you; nobody can
go through this world with a heart and a soul, and jog along smoothly
long at a time.... I do not remember ever having a discussion on paper
with my husband; we should not dare to run the risk. But I know I said
something once in a letter, I forget what, that made him snatch the
first train and rush to set things right, though it cost him a two days'
journey. We are tremendous lovers still. Write and tell me we've kissed
and made up! We both mean well; we don't want to hurt each other; but
each has one million points that are very vulnerable. And neither can
know these points in the other by intuition; a cry of pain will often be
the first intimation that the one can hurt the other just there. We
must touch each other with the tips of our fingers.... To love Christ
more--this is the deepest need, the constant cry of my soul. Down in the
bowling-alley, and out in the woods, and on my bed, and out driving,
when I am happy and busy, and when I am sad and idle, the whisper keeps
going up for more love, more love, more love!

_To a Christian Friend, Dorset, Oct. 3, 1873._

I do hope you will be in New York this winter and your mother, too. What
a blessing to have a mother with whom one can hold Christian communion!
You need some trials as a set-off to it. You say few live up to what
light they have; it is true; I think we get light just as fast as we are
ready for it. At the same time I must own that I have not all the light
I need. I am still puzzled as to the true way to live; how far to
cherish a spirit that makes one sit very lightly to all earthly things,
when that spirit unfits one, to a great extent, to be an agreeable,
thoroughly sympathising companion to one's children, for instance. My
children have a real horror of Miss ----, because she thinks and talks
on only one subject; of course it never would do for me to do as she
does, as far as they are concerned. Perhaps the problem may be solved by
a resort to the fact that we are not called to the same experience. And
yet an experience of as perfect love and faith as is ever vouchsafed to
a soul on earth, is what I long for. At times my heart dies within me
when I realise how much I need. As you say, no doubt the mental strain I
had been passing through prepared the way for my break-down in health;
as I lay, as I thought, dying, I said so to myself. That strain is over;
I am in a sense at rest; but not satisfied. I have been too near to
Christ to be _happy_ in anything else; I don't mean by that, however,
that I never _try_ to be happy in other things--alas, I do.

As to the minor trials, no life is without them. But what mercies we get
every now and then! The other day three letters came to me by one mail,
each of which was important, and came from exactly the quarter where I
was troubled, and dispersed the trouble to a great degree. In fact I am
overwhelmed with mercies, and dreadfully stupid and unthankful for them.
I have had also some experiences of late of the smallness and meanness,
of which you have had specimens. One has to betake oneself to prayer to
get a sight of One, who is large-hearted and noble and good and true.
Oh, how narrow human narrowness must look to Him! I don't know how many
times I have smiled at your remark about Miss ----: "She seems to have
such a hard time to learn her lessons." I feel sorry for her in one
sense, but if she belongs to Christ, isn't He home enough for her? I
think it _always_ a very doubtful experiment to offer other people a
home with you; and equally doubtful whether such an offer is wisely
accepted. Being a saint does not, I am sorry to say, necessarily make
one an agreeable addition to the family circle as God has formed it;
if His hand _sends_ this new element into the house, of course one may
expect grace to bear it; but voluntarily to seek it argues either want
of experience or an immense power of self-sacrifice. I should prefer
Miss ----'s friends agreeing to give her an independent home, as far as
a boarding-house can furnish a home. And if it provides a place in which
to pray, as sweet a home may be found there as anywhere.

We go to town on the ninth of this month. Mr. Prentiss has been gone
some time, and has entered upon his new duties with great delight. I
must confess that if I were going to choose my work in life, I could
think of nothing more congenial than to train young Christians. It has
come over me lately that _all_ those whom he now instructs, have more
or less of the new life in them. I am sorry, however, to add that some
young theological friends of mine deny this. They say that many young
men preparing for the ministry give no other sign of piety. Young people
judge hastily and severely. As soon as I get over my first hurry, after
reaching home, I hope you will come and see me.... You speak of my
experience on my sick-bed as a precious one. To tell you the truth, it
does not seem so to me; I mean, nothing extraordinary. Not to want to
go, if invited, would be a contradiction to most of my life. But as I
was _not_ invited I realise that I am needed here; and I am afraid it
was selfish to be so delighted to go, horribly selfish.

* * * * *


Change of Home and Life in New York. A Book about Robbie. Her Sympathy
with young People. "I have in me Two different Natures." What Dr. De
Witt said at the Grave of his Wife. The Way to meet little Trials.
Faults in Prayer-Meetings. How special Theories of the Christian Life
are formed. Sudden Illness of Prof. Smith. Publication of _Golden
Hours_. How it was received.

Her return from Dorset brought with it a new order of life. The transfer
of her husband to a theological chair was almost as great a change to
her as to him. In ceasing to be a pastor's wife she gave up a position,
which for more than a quarter of a century had been to her a spring of
constant joy, and which, notwithstanding its cares, she regarded as one
of the most favored on earth. While in the parsonage, too, she was in
the midst of her friends; the removal to Sixty-first street left the
most of them at a distance; and distance in New York is no slight
hindrance to the full enjoyment of social intimacy and fellowship.
Several weeks after the return to town were devoted to the congenial
task of fitting-up and adorning the new home. Then for the first time in
many years she found herself at leisure; and one of its earliest fruits
was a selection of stray religious verses for publication; which,
however, soon gave way to a volume of her own. She was able also to give
special attention to her favorite religious reading.

The sharp trials and suffering of the previous years showed their effect
in deepened spiritual convictions, humility and tenderness of feeling,
but not in repressing her natural playfulness. At times her spirits were
still buoyant with fun and laughter. An extract from a letter to her
youngest daughter, who with her sister was on a visit at Portland, will
give a glimpse of this gay mood. Such mishaps as she recounts are liable
to occur in the best-regulated households, especially on a change of
servants; but they were rare in her experience and so the more amused

I undertook to get up a nice dinner for Dr. and Mrs. V----, about which
I must now tell you. First I was to have raw oysters on the shell.
_Blunder 1st_, small tea-plates laid for them. Ordered off, and big ones
laid. _Blunder 2d_, five oysters to be laid on each plate, instead of
which five were placed on platters at each end, making ten in all for
the whole party! Ordered a change to the original order. Result,
a terrific sound in the parlor of rushing feet and bombardment of
oyster-shells. Dinner was announced from Dr. P., who asked, helplessly,
where he should place Mrs. V----. _Blunder 4th_ by Mrs. P., who remarked
that she had got fifty pieces of shell in her mouth. _Blunder 5th_ by
Dr. P., who failed to perceive that the boiled chickens were garnished
with a stunning wine-jelly and regarding it as gizzards, presented it
only to the boys! _Blunder 6th_. Cranberry-jelly ordered. Cranberry as
a dark, inky fluid instead; gazed upon suspiciously by the guests, and
tasted sparingly by the family.--And now prepare for _blunder No_. 7,
bearing in mind that it is the third course. _Four_ prairie hens instead
of two! The effect on the Rev. Mrs. E. Prentiss was a resort to her
handkerchief, and suppression of tears on finding none in her pocket.
_Blunder 8th_. Iauch's biscuit glace stuffed with hideous orange-peel.
_Delight 1st_, delicious dessert of farina smothered in custard and dear
to the heart of Dr. V----. _Blunder 9th_. No hot milk for the coffee,
delay in scalding it, and at last serving it in a huge cracked pitcher.
_Blunder 10th_. Bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges forgotten at the
right moment and passed after the coffee and of course declined. But
hearing that Miss H. V. was fond of bananas, I seized the fruit-basket
and poured its contents into one napkin, and a lot of chocolate-cake
into another, and sent them to the young princesses in the parsonage,
who are, no doubt, dying of indigestion, this morning. Give my love to
C. and F., and a judicious portion to the old birds.

_To a young Friend, Oct. 19,1873._

I am sorry that we played hide-and-go-seek with each other when you were
in town. I have seen all my most intimate friends since I came home; I
mean all who live here. There are just eight of them, but they fill my
heart so that I should have said, at a guess, there were eighty! Try the
experiment on yourself and tell me how many such friends you have. It is
very curious.

I have just got hold of some leaves of a journal rescued from the flames
by my (future) husband, written at the age of 22, in which I describe
myself as "one great long sunbeam." It recalled the sweet life in Christ
I was then leading, and made me feel that if I had got so far on as a
girl, I ought to be _infinitely_ farther on as a woman. Still, in spite
of all shame and regrets, I had a long list of mercies to recount at the
communion-table to-day. Among other things I feel that I know and love
you better than heretofore, and it is pleasant to love. I must not
forget to answer your little niece's questions. I remember her father's
calling with your sister, but I don't remember any little girl as being
with them, much less "kissing her because she liked the Susy books."
As to writing more about Robbie, I can't do that till I get to heaven,
where he has been ever so many years. Give my love to the wee maiden,
and tell her I should love to kiss her.

No trait in Mrs. Prentiss was more striking than her sympathy with young
people, especially with young girls, and her desire to be religiously
helpful to them. But her interest in them was not confined to the
spiritual life. She delighted to join them in their harmless amusements,
and to take her part in their playful contests, whether of wit or
knowledge. Her friend, Miss Morse, thus recalls this feature of her

In Mrs. Prentiss' life the wise man's saying, _A merry heart doeth good
like a medicine_, was beautifully exemplified. Yet few were thoroughly
acquainted with this phase of her character. Those who knew her
only through her books, or her letters of Christian sympathy and
counsel--many even who came into near and tender personal relations to
her--failed to see the frolicsome side of her nature which made her an
eager participant in the fun of young people--in a merry group of girls
the merriest girl among them. In contests where playful rhymes were to
be composed at command, on a moment's notice, she sharpened the wits of
her companions by her own zest, but in most cases herself bore off the

She always entered into such contests with an unmistakable desire to
win. I remember one evening in her own home in Dorset, when four of us
were engaged in a game of verbarium, two against two--the opposite party
were gaining rapidly. She suddenly turned to her partner with a comical
air of chagrin and exclaimed: "Why is it they are winning the game? You
and I are a great deal brighter than they!"

The first time I ever saw Mrs. Prentiss was through an invitation to her
home to meet about half a dozen young persons of my own age. She was in
one of her merriest moods. Games of wit were played and she took part
with genuine interest. She at once impressed me with the feeling that
she was one of us, and that this arose from no effort to be sympathetic,
but was simply part of her nature.

This brightness wonderfully attracted young people to her, and gave her
an influence with them that she could not otherwise have exercised. She
recognised it in herself as a power, and used it, as she did all her
powers, for the service of her Master. Young Christians, seeing that her
deeply religious life did not interfere with her keen enjoyment of all
innocent pleasures, realised that there need be no gloominess for them,
either, in a life consecrated to God.

Just as her line of thought would often lie absorbingly in some one
direction for quite a period of time, so her fun ran "in streaks," as
she would have been likely to express it. One winter she amused herself
and her friends by a great number of charades and enigmas, many of
which I copied and still possess. They were dashed off with an ease and
rapidity quite remarkable. And I believe the same thing was true of most
of her books. I have watched her when she was writing some funny piece
of rhyme, and as her pen literally flew over the paper, I could hardly
believe that she was actually composing as she wrote. One day two young
girls were translating one of Heine's shorter poems. They had agreed to
send their several versions to an absent friend, who on his part was to
return his own to them. Mrs. Prentiss entered heartily into the plan and
in an hour had written as many as a dozen translations, all in English
rhyme and differing entirely one from the other. The stimulating effect
on the genius of her companions was such that over thirty translations
were produced in that one afternoon.

In thinking of the ease with which Mrs. Prentiss would suddenly turn
from grave to gay and the reverse, I often recall her answer when I one
day remarked on this trait in her.

"Yes, I have in me two very different natures. Did you ever hear the
story of the dog, who by an accident was cut in two, and was joined
together by a wonderful healing salve? Unfortunately, the pieces were
not put together properly, so two of his legs stood up in the air. At
first his master thought it a great misfortune, but he found that the
dog, when a little accustomed to his strange new form, would run until
tired on two legs, and then by turning himself over he would have a
fresh unused pair to start with, and so he did double duty! I am like
that dog. When I am tired of running on one nature, I can turn over and
run on the other, and it rests me." [4]

I want to spend a few minutes of this my birthday in talking with you in
reply to your letter.

_To a Christian Friend, New York, Oct. 26, 1873._

I want to tell you how I love you, because you "learn your lessons" so
easily, and how thankful I am that in your great trials and afflictions
you have been enabled to glorify God. How small trouble is when set over
against that! Is not Christ enough for a human soul? Does it really need
anything else for its happiness? You will remember that when Madame
Guyon was not only homeless, but deprived of her liberty, she was
perfectly happy. "A little bird am I." [5] It seems to me that when God
takes away our earthly joys and props, He gives Himself most generously;
and is there any joy on earth to be compared for a moment with such a
gift?... My husband has just come in and described the scene at Mrs. De
Witt's funeral, [6] when her husband said, _Good-bye, dear wife, you
have been my greatest blessing next to Christ_; and he added, "and that
I can say of you." This was very sweet to me, for _I_ have faults of
manner that often annoy him--I am so vehement, so positive, and lay down
the law so! But I believe the grace of God can cure faults of all sorts,
be they deep-seated or external. And I ought to be one of the best women
in the world, if I am good in proportion to the gifts with which I am
overwhelmed. I count it not the least of your and my mercies, that we
have been permitted to add four little children to the happy company
above. No wonder you miss your darling boy, but I am sure you would not
call him back. Have you any choice religious verses not in any book,
that you would like to put into one I am going to get up?

_To the Same, Nov. 12th._

I want you and your mother to know what I am now busy about, hoping it
may set you to praying over it. When I asked you for bits of poetry, I
meant pieces gleaned from time to time from newspapers. My plan was to
make a compilation, interspersing verses of my own anonymously. But Mr.
Randolph has convinced me that it is my duty and privilege to have the
little book all original, and to appear as mine; and in unexpected ways
my will about it has been broken, and I have ceased from all morbid
shyness about it, and am only too thankful that God is willing thus to
use me for His own glory. Of course, I shall meet with a good deal of
misapprehension and disgust from some quarters, but not from you or
yours. It is a comfort, on the other hand, to think of once more
ministering to longing or afflicted souls, as I hope to do in these
lines, written for no human eye. You say Jesus is pained when His dear
ones suffer. I hardly think that can be. Tender sympathy He no doubt
feels, but not pain. If He did, He would be miserable all the time, the
world is so full of misery.

When I look back over my own life, the precious times were generally
seasons of great suffering; so much so, that the idea of discipline has
become a hobby. But one can only learn all this by experience. Mrs. ----
says she never sings the verse containing "E'en though it be a cross
that raiseth me," and that little children never talk in that way to
their mothers, and, therefore, we ought not to talk so to God! I did not
argue with her about it, but I felt thankful that I could sing and say
that line very earnestly, and had been taught to do so by the Spirit of

_To a Friend in Texas, New York, Dec. 1, 1873._

I am glad you like Faber better on a closer acquaintance. He certainly
has said some wonderful things among many weak and foolish ones. What
you quote from him about thanksgiving is very true. Our gratitude bears
no sort of comparison with our petitions or our sighs and groans. It is
contemptible in us to be such thankless beggars. As to domestic cares,
you know Mrs. Stowe has written a beautiful little tract on this
subject--"Earthly Care a Heavenly Discipline." God never places us in
any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We
may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining
nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be
sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when
everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress. God
delights to try our faith by the conditions in which He places us. A
plant set in the shade shows where its heart is by turning towards the
sun, even when unable to reach it. We have so much to distract us in
this world that we do not realise how truly and deeply, if not always
warmly and consciously, we love Christ. But I believe that this love is
the strongest principle in every regenerate soul. It may slumber for a
time, it may falter, it may freeze nearly to death; but sooner or later
it will declare itself as the ruling passion. You should regard all your
discontent with yourself as negative devotion, for that it really is.
Madame Guyon said boldly, but truly, "O mon Dieu, plutot pecheur que
superbe," and that is the consoling word I feel like sending you to-day.
I know all about these little domestic foxes that spoil the vines, and
sympathise with you in yours. But if some other trial would serve God's
purpose, He would substitute it.

_To a young Friend, New York, Dec. 3, 1873._ I was interested in what
you wrote about Miss G. and of Dr. C.'s meeting. You say she spends her
time in young works of benevolence. This shows that her piety is of
the genuine sort. It is hard to have faith in mere talk. It is a great
mystery to me, that, while we meet with negative faults in ordinary
prayer-meetings, we find so many positive faults in more earnest ones.
Perhaps there is less of self in those who conduct them than we imagine.
I always regret to see talk to each other supplant address to God in
such meetings--always. As to Miss ---- and others making a "creed" as
you say out of their experience, I think it may be accounted for in this
way: They come suddenly into possession of thoughts and emotions to
which others are led gradually; they are startled and overwhelmed by the
novelty of the revelations, and at once form a theory on the subject;
and, having formed the theory, they fall to so interpreting the Bible as
to support it. Those who reach the point they have reached more
slowly are not startled, and do not need to form theories or seek for
unscriptural expressions with which to declare what they have learned.
They are probably less self-conscious, because they have not been aiming
to enter any school formed by man, but have been simply following after
Christ; hardly knowing what they expect will be the result, but
getting a great deal of sweet peace on the way. And they also acquire,
gradually, a certain kind of heaven-taught wisdom, whose access comes
not with observation; blessed truths revealed by the Holy Spirit, full
of strength and consolation.

At any rate, this is as far as I have come to; there may be oceans of
knowledge I have yet to acquire, which will modify or wholly change my
range of thought. And, according to what light I have, I am inclined
to advise you not to confuse yourself with trying to believe in or
experience this or that because others do, but to get as close to Christ
as you can every day of your life; feeling sure that if you do, He by
His Spirit will teach you all you need to know. There has been to my
mind, during the last few weeks, something awe-inspiring in the sense
I have had of the way in which God instructs His ignorant, forgetful,
stupid children. Such goodness, such patience, such love! And, on the
other hand, our _amazing_ coldness and ingratitude.

_To Mrs. Smith, New York, Dec. 21, 1873._

I wanted to see you before you left, but it would have been cruel to add
to the cares and distractions amid which you were hurrying off. [7] ...
I am reading, with great interest, the letters of Sara Coleridge. What
strikes me most in her is, that knowing so much of her, one still feels
what _lots_ there is more to her one does not know. _22d._--Strangely
enough, in writing you last evening, I forgot to tell you how much
prayer is being offered for you and your husband, and what intense
sympathy is expressed. Dr. Vincent said he could not bear to hear
another word about his sufferings. Mrs. L---- said, "I do love that
man." Mrs. D., herself all knotted up with rheumatism, would hardly
speak of herself when she heard he was so ill; and this is only a
specimen of the deep feeling expressed on all sides.... I am glad you
find anything to like in my poor little book. I hear very little about
it, but its publication has brought a blessing to my soul, which shows
that I did right in thus making known my testimony for Christ. My will
in the matter was quite overturned.

The "poor little book" appeared under the title of _Religious Poems_,
afterwards changed to _Golden Hours; Hymns and Songs of the Christian
Life_. In a letter of Mrs. Prentiss to a friend, written in 1870, occurs
this passage:

Most of my verses are too much my own personal experience to be put in
print now. After I am dead I hope they may serve as language for some
other hearts. After I am dead! That means, oh ravishing thought! that I
shall be in heaven one day.

Until the fall of 1873 her husband and two or three friends only knew of
the existence of these verses, and their publication had not crossed her
mind. But shortly after her return from Dorset she was persuaded to let
Mr. Randolph read them. She soon received from him the following letter:

The poems _must_ be printed, and at once! "We"--that is, the firm living
at Yonkers--read aloud all the pieces, except those in the book, at one
sitting, and would have gone on to the end but that the eyes gave out.
Out of the lot three or four pieces were laid aside as not up to the
standard of the others. The female member of the firm said that Mrs.
Prentiss would do a wrong if she withheld the poems from the public.
This member said _he_ should give up writing, or trying to write,
religious verses.

I am not joking. The book must be printed. We were charmed with the
poems. Some of them have all the quaintness of Herbert, some the simple
subjective fervor of the German hymns, and some the glow of Wesley. They
are, as Mrs. R. said, out of the beaten way, _and all true_. So they
differ from the conventional poetry. If published, there may be here and
there some sentimental soul, or some soul without sentiment, or some
critic who doats on Robt. Browning and don't understand him, or on
Morris, or Rossetti, because _they_ are high artists, who may snub the
book. Very well; for compensation you will have the fact that the
poems will win for you a living place in the hearts of thousands--in a
sanctuary where few are permitted to enter.

A day or two later Mr. Randolph wrote in reply to her misgivings:

If I had the slightest thought that you would make even a slight mistake
in publishing, I would say so. As I have already said, I am _sure_ that
the book would prove a blessing in ten thousand ways, and at the same
time add to your reputation as a writer.

She could not resist this appeal. The assurance that the verses would
prove a blessing to many souls disarmed her scruples and she consented
to their publication. The most of them, unfortunately, bore no date. But
all, or nearly all of them, belong to the previous twenty years, and
they depict some of the deepest experiences of her Christian life during
that period; they are her tears of joy or of sorrow, her cries of
anguish, and her songs of love and triumph. Some of them were hastily
written in pencil, upon torn scraps of paper, as if she were on a
journey. Were they all accompanied with the exact time and circumstances
of their composition, they would form, in connection with others
unpublished, her spiritual autobiography from the death of Eddy and
Bessie, in 1852, to the autumn of 1873. [8]

As she anticipated, the volume met in some quarters with anything but a
cordial reception; the criticisms upon it were curt and depreciatory.
Its representation of the Christian life was censured as gloomy and
false. It was even intimated that in her expressions of pain and sorrow,
there was more or less poetical affectation. Alluding to this in a
letter to a friend, she writes:

I have spoken of the deepest, sorest pain; not of trials, but of sorrow,
not of discomfort, but of suffering. And all I have spoken of, I have
felt. Never could I have known Christ, had I not had large experience of
Him as a chastiser.... You little know the long story of my life, nor is
it necessary that you should; but you must take my word for it that if
I do not know what suffering means, there is not a soul on earth that
does. It has not been my habit to say much about this; it has been a
matter between myself and my God; but the _results_ I have told, that He
may be glorified and that others may be led to Him as the Fountain of
life and of light. I refer, of course, to the book of verses; I never
called them poems. You may depend upon it the world is brimful of pain
in some shape or other; it is a "_hurt_ world." But no Christian should
go about groaning and weeping; though sorrowing, he should be always
rejoicing. During twenty years of my life my kind and wise Physician was
preparing me, by many bitter remedies, for the work I was to do; I can
never thank or love Him enough for His unflinching discipline.

Even the favorable notices of the volume, with two or three exceptions,
evinced little sympathy with its spirit, or appreciation of its literary
merits. [9] But while failing to make any public impression, the little
book soon found its way into thousands of closets and sick-rooms and
houses of mourning, carrying a blessing with it. Touching and grateful
testimonies to this effect came from the East and the farthest West and
from beyond the sea. The following is an extract from, a letter to Mr.
Randolph, written by a lady of New York eminent for her social influence
and Christian character:

The book of heart-hymns is wonderful, as I expected from the specimens
which you read to me from the little scraps of paper from your desk. Do
you know that I _lived_ on them ("The School" and "My Expectation is
from Thee") and was greedy to get the book that I might read them again
and again. And behold, the volume is full of the things I have felt
so often, _expressed_ as no one ever expressed them before. I am
overwhelmed every time I read it. Mr ---- and the children have quite
laughed at "Mamma's enthusiasm" over a book of poems, as I am considered
very prosaic. I made C. read two or three of them and he _surrenders_.
N. too, who is full of appreciation of poetry as well as of the _best
things_, is equally delighted. I carried the volume to a sick friend and
read to her out of it. I wish you could have seen how she was comforted!
I do not know Mrs. Prentiss, but if you ever get a chance, I would like
you to tell her what she has done for me.

A highly cultivated Swiss lady wrote from Geneva:

What a precious, precious book! and what mercy in God to enable us to
understand, and say Amen from the heart to every line! It was He who
caused you to send me a book I so much needed--and I thank Him as much
as you.

* * * * *


Incidents of the Year 1874. Prayer. Starts a Bible-Reading in Dorset.
Begins to take Lessons in Painting. A Letter from her Teacher.
Publication of _Urbane and his Friends_. Design of the Work. Her views
of the Christian Life. The Mystics. The Indwelling Christ. An Allegory.

During the winter and early spring of 1874 Mrs. Prentiss found much
delight in attending a weekly Bible-reading, held by Miss Susan Warner.
She was deeply impressed with the advantages of such a mode of studying
the Word of God, and in the course of the summer was led to start a
similar exercise in Dorset. Her letters will show how much satisfaction
it gave her during all the rest of her life.

Another incident, that left its mark upon this year, was the sudden
and dangerous illness of her husband. His life was barely saved by an
immediate surgical operation. He convalesced very slowly and it was many
months before she recovered from the shock.

_To a Christian Friend, Jan. 25, 1874._

I do not perfectly understand what you say about prayer, but it reminds
me of Mrs.----'s expressing surprise at my praying. She said she did
not, because Christ was all round her. But it is no less a fact that
Christ Himself spent hours in prayer, using language when He did so.
That does not prove, however, that He did not hold silent, mystical
communion with the Father. It seems to me that communion is one thing,
and intercessory prayer another; my own prayers are chiefly of the
latter class; the sweet sense of communion of which I have had so much,
has been greatly wanting; I dare not ask for it; I must pray as the
Spirit gives me utterance. No doubt your experience is beyond mine;
I can conceive of a silence that unites, not separates, as existing
between Christ and the soul. As to her of whom we sadly spoke, I am so
absolutely lost in confusion of thought that I feel as if chart and
compass had gone overboard. I believe there can be falls from the
highest state of grace, and that sometimes a fall is the best thing that
can happen to one; but it is an appalling thought. How wary all this
should make you and me!... Though I have felt the greatest respect for
Miss ----, I have often wondered why I did not _love_ her more. Well,
we have a new reason for fleeing to Christ in this perplexity and
disappointment. I had let her be in many things my oracle, and perhaps
no human being ought to be that. Shall we ever learn to put no
confidence in the flesh? My husband thinks Miss ---- insane.

_To a young Friend, Jan 27, 1874._

The comfort I have had as the fruit of close acquaintance with a
sick-room! I see more and more how _wise_ God was, as well as how
good, in hiding me away during all the years that might have been very
tempting, had I had my freedom. My publishing this book [10] was a sort
of miracle; I _never_ meant to do it, but my will was taken away and
it was done in one short month. I should not expect a girl as young as
yourself to respond to much of it, but I am glad you found anything to
which you could.... When I received my own great blessing thirty-five
years ago, I was younger than you are now, and hadn't half the light you
have, nor did I know exactly what to aim at, but blundered and suffered
not a little.... It seems to me that it is eminently fitting that we
should go to the throne of grace together, and expect, in so doing, a
different kind of blessing from that sought alone, in the closet. I
never feel any embarrassment in praying with those older and better than
myself; the better they are, the less disposed they will be to look down
upon me. The truth is, we are all alike in being poor and needy, and it
is a good thing to get together and confess this to our Father, in each
other's hearing. I can unite cordially with anyone, man, woman or child,
who really _prays_. A very illiterate person could win my heart if I
knew he truly loved the Lord Jesus, no matter how clumsily he expressed
that love; and his prayers would edify me. Perhaps you can not look at
this matter exactly as I do. I know I _suffered_ for years, whenever I
prayed with others, old or young; but I persevered in what I believed to
be a duty, until, not so very long ago, the duty became a pleasure, all
fear of man being taken away. I never think anything about what sort of
a prayer I make; in fact _I_ make no prayer; we have to speak as the
Spirit gives us utterance.

_To Mrs. Condict, Kauinfels,_ [11] _Aug. 16, 1874._

Yesterday Miss H. came down and asked me if I would start a
Bible-reading at her house. I told her I would with pleasure. This
morning I decided to open with the Sermon on the Mount, and have been
studying the first promise. Do take your Bible and study that verse by
reading the references. I am _delighted_ that our dear Lord has at last
pointed out my mission to this village. I have long prayed that He would
open a way of access to hearts here. Pray next Wednesday afternoon that
I may be a witness for Him. There are a number of families boarding in
town, who will join the reading. Miss H. wanted to give notice from the
pulpit, but I could not consent to that.... You say your mother asks
about my book. It is a queer one, and I am not satisfied with it; but my
husband is, and thinks it will do good. God grant it may. I entitle it
Paths of Peace; or, Christian Friends in Council. [12] After the most
earnest prayer for light, I can not preach sinless perfection. I think
God has provided a way to perfection, and that that is, "looking unto
Jesus." If the "higher life" means utter sinlessness then I shall have
to own that I have never had any experience of it. Mr. P. has given me
a world of anxiety. He will go round everywhere, even on jolting
straw-rides; his wound is nearly healed, however. He is _looking_ the
picture of health, but feels uncomfortable and sleeps restlessly. I went
up to the tavern lately as a great piece of self-denial to call on a
lady boarding there, and found I had thus stumbled on to fine gold; the
gold you and I love. She is the wife of the Rev. Mr. R., of Flushing.

Soon after returning to town she began to take lessons in oil painting.
Her teacher was Mrs. Julia H. Beers--now Mrs. Kempson--a lady gifted
with much of the artistic power belonging to her distinguished brothers,
William and James M. Hart. In this new pursuit Mrs. Prentiss passed many
very busy and happy hours. The following letter to her husband gives
Mrs. Kempson's recollections of them:


My dear Dr. Prentiss:--When the news came of Mrs. Prentiss' death I felt
that I had lost a friend whose place could not be filled. I never had a
pupil in whom I was so much interested, or one that I loved so dearly.
She has told me many times that "the days spent with me were red-letter
days in her life." They certainly were in my own. I shall never
forget her first visit to my studio on the corner of Fifth avenue and
Twenty-sixth street. We had not met before, and I felt somewhat awed in
the presence of an authoress. But in a few minutes we were fast friends.
Taking one of my portfolios in her arms she asked, "May I sit down on
the floor and take this in my lap?" Of course I assented. She pored over
the contents with the delight of a child. Then turning to me she said,
"This is what I have had a craving for all my life. There has always
been a want unsupplied; I knew not what it was; but now I know. It was a
reaching out for the beautiful. Look at my white hair and tell me if it
would be possible for me to learn." I replied, "Yes, if you desire to do
so." "Will you take me for a pupil?" she asked. "I do not know which end
of the brush to use." "No matter," I said; "I can teach you."

She became my pupil and you know the result. But you can not know, as I
do, the delight she took in her studies. My ordinary pupils were limited
to two hours. But I said to her, "Come at ten and stay as long as you
please." Punctual to the moment she came, seated herself at her easel,
and rarely left it while the light lasted. I never saw such enthusiasm
or such appreciation. At first her progress was slow, but as she gained
knowledge of the materials, it became very rapid. In my opinion she had
remarkable talent, and, if spared, might even have made herself a name
as an artist. I have had hundreds of pupils, but not one of them ever
made such progress. What a delight it was to teach her! All her quaint
sayings and her beautifully expressed thoughts I treasured up as
precious things. She always brought brightness to the studio with her. I
can see her so plainly this moment as she came in one morning. "Well,"
she said, "I thought when I commenced painting if ever I painted a daisy
that did not need to be labeled, I should be proud, and I have done it."
I wish, dear Dr. Prentiss, I could recall the thousand and one pleasant
things that every now and then have occurred to me, while I was thinking
of her. I tried to write to you when I heard of your great loss, but my
heart failed me. I could not, nor can I, imagine you living without her.
In her last letter to me she says, speaking of my daughter's marriage:

I hope thirty years hence the twain will be as much in love with each
other as two old codgers of my acquaintance, who go on talking heavenly
nonsense to each other after the most approved fashion.

How little I then dreamed that we should never meet again! I should much
like to see you all. I have not forgotten that pleasant summer at Dorset
in 1875, nor the great pan of blackberries you picked for me with your
own hands.

With kindest regards, very sincerely,


_To Mrs. Humphrey, New York, Dec. 1874._

After learning how to manage a "Bible-reading" by attending Miss
Warner's once a week for four or five months, I got my tongue so loosed
that I have held one by request at Dorset. The interest in it did not
flag all summer, and ladies, young and old, came from all directions,
not only to the readings, but with tears to open their hearts to me.
Some hitherto worldly ones were among the number. I have also helped
to start one at Elizabeth, another at Orange, another at Flushing. My
husband says if one were held in every church in the land the country
would be revolutionised. It is just such work as you would delight in.
Do forgive the blots; I am tearing away on this letter so that I forget
myself and dip up too much ink. I have been urged to hold three readings
a week in different parts of the city, but that is not possible. You
can't imagine how thankful I am that I have at last found a sphere of
usefulness in Dorset.

We had a great shock last spring when Mr. Prentiss was stricken down; I
do not dare to think how hard it would have been to become husbandless
and homeless at one blow. But I well know that no earthly circumstances
need really destroy our happiness in that which is, after all, _our
Life_. Even if it is only for the few years before our boys leave home,
never to return permanently to it, I shall be thankful to have it left
as it is--if that is best. If I had not known what my husband's trouble
was, and summoned aid in the twinkling of an eye, Dr. Buck says he would
have died. He would certainly have died if he had been at Dorset. He has
never recovered his strength, but is able to give his lectures. Although
I did very little nursing, I got a good deal run down, especially from
losing sleep, and have had to go to bed at half-past eight or nine all
summer and thus far in the winter.

I am taking lessons this winter in oil-painting with A. She has the
advantage of me in having had lessons in drawing, while I have had none.
My teacher says she never had a beginner do better than I, so I think
beginners very awkward mortals, who get paint all over their clothes,
hands and faces, and who, if they get a pretty picture, know in the
secrecy of their guilty consciences it was done by a compassionate
artist who would fain persuade one into the fancy that the work was
one's own.

What you say about my having done you good surprises me. Whatever
treasure God has in me is hidden in an earthen vessel and unseen by my
own eyes.... I feel every day how much there is to learn, how much to
unlearn, and that no genuine experience is to be despised. Some people
roundly berate Christians for want of faith in God's word, when it is
want of faith in their own private interpretation of His word. I think
that when the very best and wisest of mankind get to heaven, they'll get
a standard of holiness that might make them blush; only it is not likely
they _will_ blush.

In the latter part of this year _Urbane and His Friends_ appeared.
Urbane is an aged pastor and his Friends are members of his flock, whom
he had invited to meet him from week to week for Christian counsel and
fellowship. Some of their names, Antiochus, Hermes, Junia, Claudia,
Apelles and the like, sound rather strange, but, together with those
more familiar, they are all borrowed from the New Testament.

_Urbane and His Friends_ is the only book of a didactic sort written by
Mrs. Prentiss. It is not, however, wholly didactic, but contains also
touches of narrative and character that add to its interest. Among the
topics discussed are: The Bible, Temptation, Faith, Prayer, the Mystics,
"The Higher Christian Life," Service, Pain and Sorrow, Peace and Joy,
and the Indwelling Christ. She was dissatisfied with the work and
required some persuasion before she would consent to its being
published. But its spiritual tone, its tenderness, its "sweet
reasonableness," and the bright little pictures of Christian truth and
life, which enliven its pages, have led some to prize it more than any
other of her writings.

And here it may not be out of place to insert the following letter
of her husband, written several months after her death. It gives her
matured views on certain points relating to the Christian life, about
which there has been no little difference of opinion:

NEW YORK, _April 16, 1879._

MY DEAR FRIEND:--Many thanks for your kind words about Urbane and
His Friends. So far at least as the aim and spirit of the book are
concerned, no praise could exceed its merits. It was written with
a single desire to honor Christ by aiding and cheering some of His
disciples on their way heavenward. At that time, as you know, there
was a good deal of discussion about "the Higher Christian Life" and
"Holiness through Faith." She herself had felt some of the difficulties
connected with the subject, and was anxious to reach out a helping hand
to others similarly perplexed. I do not think her mind was specially
adapted to the didactic style, nor was it much to her taste. When
writing in that style her pen did not seem to be entirely at ease, or to
move quite at its own sweet will. Careful statement and nice theological
distinctions were not her forte. And yet her mental grasp of Christian
doctrine in its vital substance was very firm, and her power of
observing, as well as depicting, the most delicate and varying
phenomena of the spiritual life was like an instinct. A purer or more
whole-hearted love of "the truth as it is in Jesus," I never witnessed
in any human being. At the same time she was very modest and distrustful
of her own judgment when opposed to that of others whom she regarded as
experienced Christians. I wish you could enjoy a tithe of the happiness
that was mine during the winter and spring of 1873-4, as, evening after
evening, she talked over with me the various points discussed in her
book, and then read to me what she had written. Those were golden hours
indeed--hours in which was fulfilled the saying that is written--_And
it came to pass that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus
Himself drew near_. As I look back to the Sabbath evenings passed with
her in such converse, they seem to me radiant still with the glory of
the risen Christ. Nor am I able to imagine what else than His presence
could have rendered them, at the time, so soothing and blissful.

You refer to her fondness for the mystics. She thought that Christian
piety owes a large debt of gratitude to such writers as Thomas a Kempis,
Madame Guyon, Fenelon, Leighton, Tersteegen, and others like them in
earlier and later times, to whom "the secret of the Lord" seemed in a
peculiar manner to have been revealed, and who with seraphic zeal trod
as well as taught the paths of peace and holiness. While she was writing
the chapter on the Mystics, I showed her Coleridge's tribute to them
in his Biographia Literaria, which greatly pleased her. It is her own
experience that she puts into the mouth of Urbane, where he says, after
quoting Coleridge's tribute, "I have no recollection of ever reading
this passage till today, but had _toiled out_ its truth for myself, and
now set my hand and seal to it." [13] It is for her, too, as well as for
himself, that Urbane speaks, where, in answer to Hermes' question, "Who
are the Mystics?" he says:

They are the men and women known to every age of the Church, who usually
make their way through the world completely misunderstood by their
fellow-men. Their very virtues sometimes appear to be vices. They are
often the scorn and contempt of their time, and are even persecuted and
thrown into prison by those who think they thus do our Lord service. But
now and then one arises who sees, or thinks he sees, some clue to their
lives and their speech. Though not of them, he feels a mysterious
kinship to them that makes him shrink with pain when he hears them
spoken of unjustly. Now, I happen to be such a man. I have not built
up any pet theory that I want to sustain; I am not in any way bound to
fight for any school; but I should be most ungrateful to God and man if
I did not acknowledge that I owe much of the sum and substance of the
best part of my life to mystical writers--aye, and mystical thinkers,
whom I know in the flesh.... I use Christ as a magnet, and say to all
who cleave to Him--even when I can not perfectly agree with them on
every point of doctrine: You love Christ, therefore I love you.

Closely allied to her fondness for the Mystics was her delight in the
doctrine of the indwelling Christ. For more than thirty years it was a
favorite subject of our Sunday and week-day talk. The closing chapters
of the Gospel of John, the Epistle to the Ephesians, and other parts of
the New Testament, in which this most precious truth is enshrined, were
especially dear to her. So too, and for the same reason, was Lavater's
hymn beginning,

O Jesus Christus, wachs in mir--

a hymn with which we became acquainted soon after our marriage, and
which I do not doubt she repeated to herself many thousands of times.

The surest way, as she thought, of rising above the bondage of "frames"
and entering into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, is to become
fully conscious of our actual union to Christ and of what is involved in
this thrice-sacred union. It is not enough that we trust in Him as our
Saviour and the Lord our Righteousness; He must also dwell in our
hearts by faith as our spiritual life. The union is indeed mystical and
indescribable, but none the less real or less joy-inspiring for all
that. We want no metaphor and no mere abstraction in our souls; we want
Christ Himself. We want to be able to say in sublime contradiction, "I
live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." And this, too, is the way of
sanctification, as well as of rest of conscience. For just in proportion
as Christ lives in the soul, self goes out and with it sin. Just
in proportion as self goes out, Christ comes in, and with Him
righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

But as, in her view, the doctrine of an indwelling Christ did not
supplant the doctrine of an atoning and interceding Christ, so neither
did it supplant that of Christ as our Example or annul the great law of
self-sacrifice by which, following in His steps, we also are to be made
perfect through suffering.

Such is a brief outline of her teaching on this subject in Urbane and
His Friends. And from its publication until her death, her theory of the
way of holiness reduced itself more and more to these two simple points:
Christ in the flesh showing and teaching us how to live, and Christ in
the Spirit living in us. And this presence of Christ in the soul she
regarded, I repeat, as an actual, as well as actuating, presence;
mediated indeed, like His sacrifice upon the cross, by the Holy Ghost.
But, as "through the Eternal Spirit He offered HIMSELF without spot unto
God," even so in and through the same Eternal Spirit, He HIMSELF comes
and takes up His abode in the hearts of His faithful disciples. His
indwelling is not a mere metaphor, not a bare moral relation, but the
most blessed reality--a veritable union of life and love. She thought
that much of the meaning and comfort of the doctrine was sometimes lost
by not keeping this point in mind. In a letter written not long before
her death, she reiterated very strongly her conviction on this subject,
appealing to our Lord's teaching in the seventeenth chapter of John.

And this brings me to what you say about the chapter entitled The
Mystics of To-day; or, "The Higher Christian Life," and to your inquiry
as to her later views on the question. You are quite right in supposing
that while writing this chapter she had a good deal of sympathy with
some of the advocates of the "Higher Life" doctrine. She heartily agreed
with them in believing that it is the privilege of Christ's disciples to
rise to a much higher state of holy love, assurance, and rest of soul
than the most of them seem ever to reach in this world; and further,
that such a spiritual uplifting may come, and sometimes does come,
in the way of a sudden and extraordinary experience. But it is never
without a history. She gives a beautiful picture of such an experience
in the case of Stephanas, who was "as gay as any boy," and then adds:
"Now, the descent of the blessing was sudden and lifted him at once into
a new world, but the preparation for it had been going on ever since he
learned to pray."

But while agreeing with the advocates of the Higher Life doctrine
in some points, she was far from agreeing with them in all. And her
disagreement increased and grew more decided in her later years. The
subject is often alluded to in her letters to Christian friends; and
should these letters ever be published, they will answer your inquiry
much better than I can do. The points in the "Higher Life" and "Holiness
through Faith" views which she most strongly dissented from, related to
the question of perfection. The Christian life--this was her view--is
subject to the great law of growth. It is a process, an education, and
not a mere volition, or series of volitions. Its progress may be rapid,
but, ideally considered, each new stage is conditioned by the one that
went before: _first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn
in the ear_. It embraces the whole spirit and soul and body; and its
perfect development, therefore, is a very comprehensive thing, touching
the length and breadth, the depth and height of our entire being. It is
also, in its very nature, conflict as well as growth; the forces of evil
must be vanquished, and these forces, whether acting through body, soul,
or spirit, are very subtle, treacherous, and often occult, as well as
very potent; the best man on earth, if left to himself, would fall a
prey to them. No fact of religious experience is more striking than
this, that the higher men rise in real goodness--the nearer they come
to God, the more keen-eyed and distressed are they to detect evil in
themselves. Their sense of sin seems to be in a sort of inverse ratio
to their freedom from its power. And we meet with a similar fact in the
natural life. The finer and more exalted the sentiment of purity and
honor, the more sensitive will one be to the slightest approach to what
is impure or dishonorable in one's own character and conduct. Such is
substantially her ground of dissent from the "Higher Life" theory. Her
own sense of sin was so profound and vivid that she shuddered at the
thought of claiming perfection for herself; and it seemed to her a
very sad delusion for anybody else to claim it. True holiness is never
self-conscious; it does not look at itself in the glass; and if it did,
it would see only Christ, not itself, reflected there. This was her way
of looking at the subject; and she came to regard all theories, still
more all professions, of entire sanctification as fallacious and full of
peril--not a help, but a serious hindrance to real Christian holiness.
For several years she not only read but carefully studied the most noted
writers who advocated the "Higher Life" and "Holiness through Faith"
doctrines, and her testimony was that they had done her harm. "I find
myself spiritually injured by them," she wrote to a friend less than two
years before her death. "How do you explain the fact," she added, "that
truly good people are left to produce such an effect? Is it not to
shut us up to Christ? What a relief it will be to get beyond our own
weaknesses, and those of others! I long for that day."

I have just alluded to her deep, vivid consciousness of sin. It would
have been an intolerable burden, had not her feeling of God's infinite
grace and love in Christ been still more vivid and profound. The little
allegory in the ninth chapter of Urbane and His Friends expresses very
happily this feeling.

There are several other points in her theory of the Christian life, to
which she attached much importance. One is the close connexion between
suffering in some form and holiness, or growth in grace. The cross the
way to the crown--this thought runs, like a golden thread, through all
the records of her religious history. She expressed it while a little
girl, as she sat one day with a young friend on a tombstone in the old
burying-ground at Portland. It occurs again and again in her early
letters; in one written in 1840 she says: "I thought to myself that if
God continued His faithfulness towards me, I shall have afflictions such
as I now know nothing more of than the name"; in another written four
years later, in the midst of the sweetest joy: "I know there are some of
the great lessons of life yet to be learned; I believe I must _suffer_
as long as I have an earthly existence." And in after years, when it
formed so large an element in her own experience, she came to regard
suffering, when sanctified by the word of God and by prayer, as the
King's highway to Christian perfection. This point is often referred to
and illustrated in her various writings--more especially in Stepping
Heavenward and Golden Hours. Possibly she carried her theory a little
too far; perhaps it does not appear to be always verified in actual
Christian experience; but, certainly, no one can deny that it is in
harmony with the general teaching of inspired Scripture and with the
spirit of catholic piety in all ages. [16]

Another point, which also found illustration in her books, is the vital
connexion between the habit of devout communion with God in Christ and
all the daily virtues and charities of religion; another still is
the close affinity between depth in piety and the highest, sweetest
enjoyment of earthly good.

Her own Christian life was to me a study from the beginning. It had
heights and depths of its own, which awed me and which I could not fully
penetrate. Jonathan Edwards' exquisite description of Sarah Pierrepont
at the age of thirteen, Mrs. Edwards' own account of her religious
exercises after her marriage, and Goethe's "Confessions of a Beautiful
Soul," always reminded me of some of its characteristic features. If my
pastoral ministrations gave any aid and comfort to other souls, I can
truly say it was all largely due to her. And as for myself, my debt of
gratitude to her as a spiritual helper and friend in Christ was, and is,
and ever will be, unspeakable. The instant I began to know her, I began
to feel the cheering influence and uplifting power of her faith. For
more than a third of a century it was the most constant and by far the
strongest human force that wrought in my religious life. Nor was it a
human force alone; for surely faith like hers is in real contact with
Christ Himself and is an inspiration of His Spirit. She longed so to
live and move and have her being in love to Christ, that nobody could
come near her without being straightway reminded of Him. She seemed to
be always saying to herself, in the words of an old Irish hymn: [17]
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my
left, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the
mouth of every man who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me. Such was her constant prayer; and it
was answered in the experience of many souls, whose faith was kindled
into a brighter flame by the intense ardor of hers. So long and so
closely, in my own mind, was she associated with Christ, that the
thought of her still reminds me of Him as naturally as does reading
about Him in the New Testament.

The allegory referred to above is here given:

A benevolent man found a half-starved, homeless, blind beggar-boy in the
streets of a great city. He took him, just as he was, to his own house,
adopted him as his own son, and began to educate him. But the boy
learned very slowly, and his face was often sad. His father asked him
why he did not fix his mind more upon his lessons, and why he was not
cheerful and happy, like the other children. The boy replied that his
mind was constantly occupied with the fear that he had not been really
adopted as a son, and might at any moment learn his mistake.

_Father_. But can you not believe me when I assure you that you are my
own dear son?

_Boy_. I can not, for I can see no reason why you should adopt me. I was
a poor, bad boy; you did not need any more children, for you had a house
full of them, and I never can do anything for you.

_Father_. You can love me and be happy, and as you grow older and
stronger you can work for me.

_Boy_. I am afraid I do not love you; that is what troubles me.

_Father_. Would you not be very sorry to have me deny that you are my
son, and turn you out of the house?

_Boy_. Oh, yes! But perhaps that is because you take good care of me,
not because I love you.

_Father_. Suppose, then, I should provide some one else to take care of
you, and should then leave you.

_Boy_. That would be dreadful.

_Father_. Why? You would be taken good care of, and have every want

_Boy_. But I should have no father. I should lose the best thing I have.
I should be lonely.

_Father_. You see you love me a little, at all events. Now, do you think
I love you?

_Boy_. I don't see how you can. I am such a bad boy and try your
patience so. And I am not half as thankful to you for your goodness as
I ought to be. Sometimes, for a minute, I think to myself, He _is_ my
father and he really loves me; then I do something wrong, and I think
nobody would want such a boy, nobody can love such a boy.

_Father_. My son, I tell you that I do love you, but you can not believe
it because you do not know me. And you do not know me because you have
not seen me, because you are blind. I must have you cured of this

So the blind boy had the scales removed from his eyes and began to see.
He became so interested in using his eyesight that, for a time, he
partially lost his old habit of despondency. But one day, when it began
to creep back, he saw his father's face light up with love as one after
another of his children came to him for a blessing, and said to himself:
_They_ are his own children, and it is not strange that he loves them,
and does so much to make them happy. But I am nothing but a beggar-boy;
he can't love me. I would give anything if he could. Then the father
asked why his face was sad, and the boy told him.

_Father_. Come into this picture gallery and tell me what you see.

_Boy_. I see a portrait of a poor, ragged, dirty boy. And here is
another. And another. Why, the gallery is full of them!

_Father_. Do you see anything amiable and lovable in any of them?

_Boy_. Oh, no.

_Father_. Do you think I love your brothers?

_Boy_. I know you do!

_Father_. Well, here they are, just as I took the poor fellows out of
the streets.

_Boy_. Out of the streets as you did me? They are all your adopted sons?

_Father_. Every one of them.

_Boy_. I don't understand it. What made you do it?

_Father_. I loved them so that I could not help it.

_Boy_. I never heard of such a thing! You loved those miserable beggar-
boys? Then you must be made of Love!

_Father_. I am. And that is the reason I am so grieved when some such
boys refuse to let me become their father.

_Boy_. Refuse? Oh, how can they? Refuse to become your own dear sons?
Refuse to have such a dear, kind, patient father? Refuse _love?_

_Father_. My poor blind boy, don't you now begin to see that I do not
wait for these adopted sons of mine to wash and clothe themselves, to
become good, and obedient, and affectionate, but loved them _because_
they were such destitute, wicked, lost boys? I did not go out into the
streets to look for well-dressed, well-cared-for, faultless children,
who would adorn my house and shine in it like jewels. I sought for
outcasts; I loved them as outcasts; I knew they would be ungrateful and
disobedient, and never love me half as much as I did them; but that made
me all the more sorry for them. See what pains I am taking with them,
and how beautifully some of them are learning their lessons. And now
tell me, my son, in seeing this picture gallery, do you not begin to
see me? Could anything less than love take in such a company of poor

_Boy_. Yes, my father, I do begin to see it. I do believe that I know
you better now than I ever did before. I believe you love even me. And
now I _know_ that I love you!

_Father_. Now, then, my dear son, let that vexing question drop forever,
and begin to act as my son and heir should. You have a great deal to
learn, but I will myself be your teacher, and your mind is now free to
attend to my instructions. Do you find anything to love and admire in
your brothers?

_Boy_. Indeed I do.

_Father_. You shall be taught the lessons that have made them what they
are. Meanwhile I want to see you look cheerful and happy, remembering
that you are in your father's heart.

_Boy_. Dear father, I will! But oh, help me to be a better son!

_Father_. Dear boy, I will.

[1] In Union Theological Seminary, New York.

[2] The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, by Rev. Asa Mahau, D.D., p. 118.

[3] Dr. L. H. Hemenway.

[4] Some of the charades referred to will be found in appendix E, p.

[5] Referring to the following hymn composed by Madame Guyon in prison:

A little bird I am,
Shut out from fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there.
Well-pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.

Naught have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He, whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song.
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But still He bends to hear me sing.

[6] Mrs. De Witt was the wife of the Rev. Thomas De Witt, D.D., a man
of deep learning, an able preacher in the Dutch language as well as the
English, and universally revered for his exalted Christian virtues. He
was a minister of the Collegiate Church, New York, for nearly half a
century. He died May 18, 1874, in the eighty-third year of his age. Here
are other sentences uttered by him at the grave of his wife: "Farewell,
my beloved, honored, and faithful wife! The tie that united us is
severed. Thou art with Jesus in glory; He is with me by His grace. I
shall soon be with you. Farewell!"

[7] Prof. Smith had been suddenly stricken down by severe illness and
with difficulty removed to the well-known Sanitarium at Clifton Springs.

[8] Referring to the book in a letter to a friend, written shortly after
its publication, she says: "Of course it will meet with rough treatment
in some quarters, as indeed it has already done. I doubt if any one
works very hard for Christ who does not have to be misunderstood and
perhaps mocked."

[9] One of the best notices appeared in The Churchman, an Episcopal
newspaper then published at Hartford, but since transferred to New York.
Here is a part of it:

"For purity of thought, earnestness and spirituality of feeling, and
smoothness of diction, they are all, without exception, good--if they
are not great. If no one rises to the height which other poets have
occasionally reached, they are, nevertheless, always free from those
defects which sometimes mar the perfectness of far greater productions.
Each portrays some human thirst or longing, and so touches the heart of
every thoughtful reader. There is a sweetness running through them all
which comes from a higher than earthly source, and which human wisdom
can neither produce nor enjoy."

[10] _Golden Hours_.

[11] The name given to the Dorset home.

[12] Afterwards changed to _Urbane and His Friends_.

[13] The passage from Coleridge is as follows: "The feeling of gratitude
which I cherish towards these men has caused me to digress further
than I had foreseen or proposed; but to have passed them over in an
historical sketch of my literary life and opinions, would have seemed
like the denial of a debt, the concealment of a boon; for the writings
of these mystics acted in no slight degree to prevent my mind from being
imprisoned within the outline of any dogmatic system. They contributed
to keep alive the _heart_ in the _head_; gave me an indistinct, yet
stirring and working presentiment that all the products of the mere
_reflective_ faculty partook of DEATH, and were as the rattling of twigs
and sprays in winter, into which a sap was yet to be propelled from
some root to which I had not penetrated, if they were to afford my soul
either food or shelter. If they were too often a moving cloud of smoke
to me by day, yet they were always a pillar of fire throughout the
night, during my wanderings through the wilderness of doubt, and enabled
me to skirt, without crossing, the sandy desert of utter unbelief."

[14] See her translation of the hymn in _Golden Hours_, p. 123. The
original will be found in appendix C, p. 540.

[15] I in them and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.--V.

[16] There should be no greater comfort to Christian persons, than to be
made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and
sicknesses. For He himself went not up to joy, but first He suffered
pain; He entered not into His glory, before He was crucified. So truly
our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ.--(The Book of
Common Prayer.)

[17] Ascribed to St. Patrick, on the occasion of his appearing before
King Laoghaire.





A Bible-reading in New York. Her Painting. "Grace for Grace." Death of
a young Friend. The Summer at Dorset. Bible-readings there. Encompassed
with Kindred. Typhoid Fever in the House. Watching and Waiting. The
Return to Town. A Day of Family Rejoicing. Life a "Battle-field."

Her time and thoughts during 1875 were mostly taken up by her Bible-
readings, her painting, the society of kinsfolk from the East and the
West, getting her eldest son ready for college, and by the dangerous
illness of her youngest daughter. Some extracts from the few letters
belonging to this year will give the main incidents of its history.

_To a young Friend, Jan. 13, 1875._

I have had two Bible-readings, and they bid fair to be more like those
of last winter than I had dared to hope. There are earnest, thoughtful,
praying souls present, who help me in conducting the meeting, and you
would be astonished to see how much better I can do when not under the
keen embarrassment of delivering a lecture, as at Dorset.... I have a
young friend about your age who is dying of consumption, and it is
very delightful to see how happy she is. She used to attend the
Bible-readings last winter.

About the painting? Well, I have dug away, and Mrs. Beers painted
out and painted in, till I have got a beautiful great picture almost
entirely done by her. Then I undertook the old fence with the clematis
on it here at home, and made a _horrid_ daub. She painted most of that
out, and is having me do it at the studio. Meanwhile, I have worked on
another she lent me, and finished it to-day, and they all say that it is
a success. In my last two lessons Mrs. B. contrived to let some light
into my bewildered brain, and says that if I paint with her this
winter and next summer I shall be able to do what I please. My most
discouraging time, she says, is over. Not that I have been discouraged
an atom! I have great faith in a strong will and a patient perseverance,
and have had no idea of saying die.... Some lady in Philadelphia bought
forty copies of Urbane. It was very discriminating in you to see how
comforting to me would be that passage from Robertson. God only fully
knows how I have got my "education." The school has at times been too
awful to talk about to any being save Him. [1]

_To Mrs. Humphrey, New York, April 6, 1875._

My point about "Grace for Grace" [2] is this: I believe in "growth in
grace," but I also believe in, because I have experienced it and find
my experience in the Word of God, a work of the Spirit subsequent to
conversion (not necessary in all cases, perhaps, but in all cases where
Christian life begins and continues feebly), which puts the soul into
new conditions of growth. If a plant is sickly and drooping, you must
change its atmosphere before you can cure it or make it grow. A great
many years ago, _disgusted_ with my spiritual life, I was led into new
relations to Christ to which I could give no name, for I never had heard
of such an experience. When we moved into this house, I found a paper
that had long been buried among rubbish, in which I said, "I am one
great long sunbeam"; and I don't know any words, that, on the whole,
could better cover most of my life since then. I have been a great
sufferer, too; but that has, in the main, nothing to do with one's
relation to Christ, except that most forms of pain bring Him nearer.
Now, one can not read "Grace for Grace" without loving and sympathising
with the author, because of his deep-seated longing for, and final
attainment of, holiness; but it seemed to me there was a good deal of
needless groping, which more looking to Christ might have spared him. It
is, as you say, curious to see how people who agree in so many points
differ so in others. I suspect it is because our degrees of faith vary;
the one who believes most gets most.

The subject of sin _versus_ sinlessness is the vexed question, on which,
as fast as most people get or think they get light, somebody comes along
and snuffs out their candles with unceremonious finger and thumb. A
dearly-beloved woman spent a month with me last spring. She thinks she
is "kept" from sin, and certainly the change from a most estimable
but dogmatic character is absolutely wonderful.... There was this
discrepancy between her experience and mine, with, on all other points,
the most entire harmony. She had had no special, joyful revelations of
Christ to her soul, and I had had them till it seemed as if body and
soul would fly apart. On the other hand she had a sweet sense of freedom
from sin which transcended anything I had ever had consciously; although
I really think that when one is "looking unto Jesus," one is not likely
to fall into much noticeable sin. Talking with Miss S. about the two
experiences of my dear friend and myself, she said that it could be
easily explained by the fact that _all_ the gifts of the Spirit were
rarely, if ever, given to one soul. She is very (properly) reticent as
to what she has herself received, but she behaved in such a beautiful,
Christlike way on a point where we differed, a point of practice, that I
can not doubt she has been unusually blest.

Early in May of this year she was afflicted by the sudden death in Paris
of a very dear friend of her eldest daughter, Miss Virginia S. Osborn.
[3] During the previous summer Miss Osborn had passed several weeks
at Dorset and endeared herself, while there, to all the family. The
following is from a letter of Mrs. Prentiss to the bereaved mother:

I feel much more like sitting down and weeping with you than attempting
to utter words of consolation. Nowhere out of her own home was Virginia
more beloved and admired than in our family; we feel afflicted painfully
at what to our human vision looks like an unmitigated calamity. But if
it is so hard for us to bear, to whom in no sense she belonged, what a
heartrending event this is to you, her mother! What an amazement, what
a mystery. But it will not do to look upon it on this side. We must
not associate anything so unnatural as death with a being so eminently
formed for life. We must look beyond, as soon as our tears will let us,
to the sphere on which she has been honored to enter in her brilliant
youth; to the society of the noblest and the best human beings earth has
ever known; to the fulness of life, the perfection of every gift and
grace, to congenial employment, to the welcome of Him who has conquered
death and brought life and immortality to light. If we think of her as
in the grave, we must own that hers was a hard lot; but she is not in a
grave; she is at home; she is well, she is happy, she will never know a
bereavement, or a day's illness, or the infirmities and trials of old
age; she has got the secret of perpetual youth.

But while these thoughts assuage our grief, they can not wholly allay
it. We have no reason to doubt that she would have given and received
happiness here upon earth, had she been spared; and we can not help

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