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

Part 10 out of 13

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missing her, mourning for her, longing for her, out of the very depths
of our hearts. The only real comfort is that God never makes mistakes;
that He would not have snatched her from us, if He had not had a reason
that would satisfy us if we knew it. I can not tell you with what tender
sympathy I think of your return to your desolate home; the agonizing
meeting with your bereaved boys; the days and nights that have to be
lived through, face to face with a great sorrow. May God bless and keep
you all.

_To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, July 11, 1875._

I have been sitting at my window, enjoying the clear blue sky, and the
"living green" of the fields and woods, and wishing you were here to
share it all with me. But as you are not, the next best thing is to
write you. You seem to have been wafted into that strange sea-side spot,
to do work there, and I hope you will have health and strength for it.
One of the signs of the times is the way in which the hand of Providence
scatters "city folks" all about in waste places, there to sow seed that
in His own time shall spring up and bear fruit for Him. I was shocked
at what you said about Miss ---- not recognising you. It seemed almost
incredible. Mr. Prentiss has persuaded me to have a family Bible-reading
on Sunday afternoon, as we have no service, and studying up for it this
morning I came to this proverb which originated with Huss, whose name in
Bohemian signifies goose. He said at the stake: "If you burn a goose
a swan will rise from its ashes"; and I thought--Well, Miss ----'s
usefulness is at an end, but God can, and no doubt will, raise up a swan
in her place. About forty now attend my Bible-reading.

We have my eldest brother here and he is a perfect enthusiast about
Dorset, and has enjoyed his visit immensely. He said yesterday that
he had laughed more that afternoon than in the previous ten years. We
expect Dr. Stearns and his daughter on the 20th, and when they leave Mr.
P. intends to go to Maine and try a change of air and scene. I hate to
have him go; his trouble of last year keeps me uneasy, if he is long out
of my sight.

_To the Same, Dorset, Aug., 1875._

I have just written a letter to my husband, from whom I have been
separated a whole day. He has gone to Maine, partly to see friends,
partly to get a little sea air. He wanted me to go with him, but it
would have ended in my getting down sick. This summer I am encompassed
with relatives; two of my brothers, a nephew, a cousin, a second cousin,
and in a day or two one brother's wife and child, and two more second
cousins are to come; not to our house, but to board next door. There is
a troop of artists swarming the tavern; all ladies, some of them very
congenial, cultivated, excellent persons. They are all delighted with
Dorset, and it is pleasant to stumble on little groups of them at their
work. A. has been out sketching with them and succeeds very well. I have
given up painting landscapes and taken to flowers. I have just had a
visit here in my room from three humming-birds. They are attracted by
the flowers... One of the cousins is just now riding on the lawn. Her
splendid hair has come down and covers her shoulders; and with her
color, always lovely, heightened by exercise and pleasure, she makes a
beautiful picture. What is nicer than an unsophisticated young girl? I
have no time for reading this summer among the crowd; but one can not
help thinking wherever one is, and I have come to this conclusion:
happiness in its strictest sense is found only in Christ; at the same
time there are many sources of enjoyment independently of Him. It is
getting dark and I can not see my lines. I am more and more puzzled
about good people making such mistakes. Dr. Stearns says that the Rev.
Mr. ---- has been laying his hands on people and saying, "Receive the
Holy Ghost." Such excesses give me great doubt and pain.

_To the Same, Sept. 3, 1875._

Your letter came to find me in a sorrowful and weary spot. My dear M.
lies here with typhoid fever, and my heart and soul and body are in less
than a fortnight of it pretty well used up, and my husband is in almost
as bad a case with double anxiety, he and A. expecting every hour to see
me break down. It has been an awful pull for us all, for not one of us
has an atom of health to spare, and only keep about by avoiding all the
wear and tear we can. Dr. Buck has sent us an excellent English nurse;
she came yesterday and insisted on sitting up with M. all night and we
all _dropped_ into our beds like so many shot birds. I heard her go down
for ice three times, so I knew my precious lamb was not neglected, and
slept in peace. We are encompassed with mercies; the physician who
drives over from Manchester is as skilful as he is conscientious; this
house is admirably adapted to sickness, the stairway only nine feet
high, plenty of water, and my room, which I have given her, admits of
her lying in a draught as the doctor wishes her to do. While the nurse
is sleeping, as she is now, A. and I take turns sitting out on the
piazza, where there is a delicious breeze almost always blowing.

The ladies here are disappointed that I can no longer hold the Bible-
readings, but it is not so much matter that I am put off work if you are
put on it; the field is one, and the Master knows whom to use and when
and where. We have been reading with great delight a little book called
"Miracles of Faith." I am called to M., who has had a slight chill, and
of course high fever after it. It seems painfully unnatural to see my
sunbeam turned into a dark cloud, and it distresses me so to see her
suffer that I don't know how I am going to stand it. But I won't plague
you with any more of this, nor must I forget how often I have said, "Thy
will be done." You need not doubt that God's will looks so much better
to us than our own, that nothing would tempt us to decide our child's
future.

_To her eldest Son, Dorset, Sept. 19, 1875._

Your letters are a great comfort to us, and the way to get many is to
write many. M.'s fever ran twenty-one days, as the doctor said it would,
and began to break yesterday. On Friday it ran very high; her pulse was
120 and her temperature 105--bad, bad, bad. She is very, very weak. We
have sent away Pharaoh and the kitten; Pha _would_ bark, and Kit _would_
come in and stare at her, and both made her cry. The doctor has the
house kept still as the grave; he even brought over his slippers lest
his step should disturb her. She is not yet out of danger; so you must
not be too elated. We four are sitting in the dining-room with a hot
fire; papa is reading aloud to A. and H.; it is evening, and M. has had
her opiate, and is getting to sleep. I have not much material of which
to make letters, sitting all day in a dark room in almost total silence.
The artists are rigging up the church beautifully with my flowers, etc.,
Mr. Palmer and Mr. Lawrence lending their aid. Your father is reading
about Hans Andersen; you must read the article in the Living Age, No.
1,631; it is ever so funny.

I had such a queer dream last night. I dreamed that Maggie plagued us so
that your father went to New York and brought back _two_ cooks. I said I
only wanted one. "Oh, but these are so rare," he said; "come out and see
them." So he led me into the kitchen, and there sat at the table, eating
dinner very solemnly, two _ostriches_! Now what that dream was made of I
can not imagine. Now I must go to bed, pretty tired. When you are lonely
and blue, think how we all love you. Goodnight, dear old fellow.

_Sept. 21st._--It cuts me to the heart, my precious boy, that your
college life begins under such a shadow. But I hope you know where to
go in both loneliness and trouble. You may get a telegram before this
reaches you; if you do not you had better pack your valise and have it
ready for you to come at a minute's warning. The doctor gives us hardly
a hope that M. will live; she may drop away at any moment. While she
does live you are better off at Princeton; but when she is gone we
shall all want to be together. We shall have her buried here in Dorset;
otherwise I never should want to come here again. A. said this was her
day to write you, but she had no heart to do it. The only thing I can do
while M. is asleep, is to write letters about her. Good-night, dear boy.

_22d_--The doctor was here from eight to nine last night and said she
would suffer little more and sleep her life away. _She_ says she is
nicely and the nurse says so. Your father and I have had a good cry this
morning, which has done us no little service. Dear boy, this is a bad
letter for you, but I have done the best I can.

_To Mrs. George Payson, New York, Oct. 31, 1875_

I hope you received the postal announcing our safe arrival home. I have
been wanting to answer your last letter, but now that the awful strain
is over I begin to flag, am tired and lame and sore, and any exertion is
an effort. But after all the dismal letters I have had to write, I want
to tell you what a delightful day yesterday was to us all; G. home from
Princeton, all six of us at the table at once, "eating our meat with
gladness"; the pleasantest _family_ day of our lives. M.'s recovery
during the last week has been little short of miraculous. We got her
home, after making such a bugbear of it, in perfect comfort. We left
Dorset about noon in a close carriage; the doctor and his wife were
at the station and weighed M., when we found she had lost thirty-six
pounds. The coachman took her in his arms and carried her into the car,
when who should meet us but the Warners. On reaching the New York depot,
George rushed into the car in such a state of wild excitement that he
took no notice of any one but M.; he then flew out and a man flew in,
and without saying a word snatched her up in his arms, whipped her into
a reclining-chair, and he and another man scampered with her to the
carriage and seated her in it; I had to run to keep up with them, and
nearly knocked down a gigantic policeman who was guarding it. The
Warners spent the night here and left next morning before I was up,
so afraid of making trouble.... A friend has put a carriage at our
disposal, and M. is to drive every day when and where and as long as she
pleases. And now I hope I shall have something else to write about....
As to the Bible-readings, I do not find commentaries of much use.
Experience of life has been my chief earthly teacher, and one gains that
every day. You must not write me such long letters; it is too much for
you. How I do wish you would do something desperate about getting well!
At any rate, _don't_, any of you, have typhoid fever. It is the very
meanest old snake of a fox I ever heard of, making its way like a masked
burglar.

_To Mrs. Condict, New York, Nov 7, 1875._

We came home on the 27th of October; M. bore the journey wonderfully
well, and has improved so fast that she drives all round the Park every
day, Miss W. having put a carriage at our disposal. How delightful it
is to get my family together once more no tongue can tell, nor did I
realise all I was suffering till the strain was over. I am longing to
get physical strength for work, but my husband is very timid about my
undertaking anything.... Dr. Ludlow [4] was here one day last week to
ask me to give a talk, in his study, to some of his young Christians;
but my husband told him it was out of the question at present. I shall
be delighted to do it; much of my experience of life has cost me a great
price, and I want to use it for the strengthening and comforting of
other souls. No doubt you feel so too. Whatever may be said to the
contrary by others, to me life has been a battle-field, and I believe
always will be; but is the soldier necessarily unhappy and disgusted
because he is fighting? I trow not. I am reading the history of the
Oxford Conference; [5] there is a great deal in it to like, but what do
you think of this saying of its leader? "Did it ever strike you, dear
Christian, that if the poor world could know what we are in Christ, it
would worship us?" [6] _I_ say _Pshaw!_ What a fallacy! _Why_ should it
worship us when it rejects Christ? Well, we have to take even the best
people as they are.

A few weeks later she met a company of the young ladies of Dr. Ludlow's
church and gave them a familiar talk on the Christian life. The
following letter from Dr. L. will show how much they were interested:

DEAR MRS. PRENTISS:--I find that you have so taken hold of the young
ladies of my church that it will be hard for you to relieve yourself
of them. They insist on meeting you again. The hesitancy to ask you
questions last Thursday was due to the large number present. I have
asked _only the younger ones_ to come this week--those who are either
"seeking the way," or are just at its beginning. _Five_ of those you
addressed last week have announced their purpose of confessing Christ at
the coming Communion.

Several questions have come from those silent lips which I am requested
to submit to you:

"What is it to believe?"

"How much feeling of love must I have before I can count myself Jesus'
disciple?"

"I am troubled with my lack of feeling. I know that sin is heinous, but
do not feel deep abhorrence of it. I know that Jesus will save me, but I
have no enthusiasm of gratitude. Am I a Christian?"

"I am afraid to confess Christ lest I should not honor Him in my
life, for I am naturally impulsive and easily fall into religious
thoughtlessness. Should I wait for an inward assurance of strength, or
begin a Christian life trusting Him to help me?"

Any of these topics will be very pertinent. I trust that nothing will
prevent you from being present on Thursday afternoon. I will call for
you. The limited number who will be present will give you a better
working basis than you had last week. The _older young_ ladies have
assented to their exclusion this week on the condition that at some time
they too can come.

Very gratefully yours, JAMES M. LUDLOW.

In a letter dated May 3, 1880, Dr. Ludlow thus refers to these meetings:

I regret that I can not speak more definitely of Mrs. Prentiss'
conversations with the young ladies of my charge, as it was my custom to
withdraw from the room after a few introductory words, so that she could
speak to them with the familiarity of a mother. I know that all that
group felt the warmth of her interest in them, the charm of her
character which was so refined by her love of Christ and strengthened by
her experience of needed grace, as well as the wisdom of her words.
I was impressed, from so much as I did hear of her remarks, with her
ability to combine rarest beauty and highest spirituality of thought
with the utmost simplicity of language and the plainest illustrations.
Her conversation was like the mystic ladder which was "_set up on the
earth,_ and the top of it _reached to heaven._" Her most solemn counsel
was given in such a way as never to repress the buoyant feeling of the
young, but rather to direct it toward the true "joy of the Lord." She
seemed to regard the cheer of to-day as much of a religious duty as the
hope for to-morrow, and those with whom she conversed partook of her own
peace. I shall always remember these meetings as among the happiest and
most useful associations of my ministry in New York.

* * * * *

II.

The Moody and Sankey Meetings. Her Interest in them. Mr. Moody.
Publication of _Griselda_. Goes to the Centennial. At Dorset again. Her
Bible-reading. A Moody-Meeting Convert. Visit to Montreal. Publication
of _The Home at Greylock_. Her Theory of a happy Home. Marrying for
Love. Her Sympathy with young Mothers. Letters.

The early months of 1876 were very busily spent in painting pictures
for friends, in attendance upon Mr. Moody's memorable services at the
Hippodrome, and in writing a book for young mothers. Before going to
Dorset for the summer she passed a week at Philadelphia, visiting the
Centennial Exhibition. Her letters during the winter and spring of this
year relate chiefly to these topics.

_To a Christian Friend, Feb. 22, 1976._

You gave me a good deal of a chill by your long silence, and I find it a
little hard to be taken up and dropped and then taken up; still, almost
everybody has these fitful ways, and very likely I myself among that
number. Your little boy must take a world of time, and open a new world
of thought and feeling. But don't spoil him; the best child can be made
hateful by mismanagement. I am trying to write a book for mothers and
find it a discouraging work, because I find, on scrutiny, such awfully
radical defects among them. And yet such a book would have helped me in
my youthful days.

You ask if I have been to hear Moody; yes, I have and am deeply
interested in him and his work. Yesterday afternoon he had a meeting
for Christian workers, in which his sound common-sense created great
merriment. Some objected to this, but I liked it because it was so
genuine, and, to my mind, not un-Christlike. So many fancy religion and
a long face synonymous. How stupid it is! I wonder they don't object to
the sun for shining. I am glad you think Urbane may be useful, for I
hear little from it. Junia's story is true as far as the laudanum and
the blindness go; it happened years ago. I do not know what religious
effect it had. As to the friend of whom you speak, she would not love
you as you say she does if her case was hopeless; at least I don't think
so. I am oppressed with the case of one who wants me to help him to
Christ, while unwilling to confide to me his difficulties. How little
they know how we care for their souls!

_To Mrs. George Payson, Feb 28, 1876._

I have been trying to do more than any mortal can, and now must stop to
take breath and write to you. In the first place, M.'s illness cut out
three months; then fitting up G.'s room at Princeton took a large part
of the next three; then ever so many people wanted me to paint them
pictures; then I began a book; then Moody and Sankey appeared, and I
wanted to hear them, and was needed to work in co-operation with them. I
don't know how you feel about Moody, but I am in full sympathy with him,
and last Friday the testimony of four of the cured "gin-pigs" (their own
language) was the most instructive, interesting language I ever heard
from human lips. In talking to those he has drawn into the inquiry
rooms, I find the most bitterly wretched ones are back-sliders; they are
not without hope, and expect to be saved at last; but they have been
trying what the world could do for them and found it a failure. Their
anguish was harrowing; one after another tried to help them, and gave up
in despair.

I had a vase given me at Christmas somewhat like yours, but a trifle
larger, and shaped like a fish. The flowers never fell out but once. I
had two little tables given me on which to set my majolica vases, with
India-rubber plants, which will grow where nothing else will; also a
desk and bookcase, and two splendid specimens of grass which grew in
California, and had been bleached to a creamy white. They are more
beautiful than Pampa, or even feather-grass.

A. is driven to death about a fair for the Young Women's Christian
Association. I have given it a German tragedy which I translated a few
years ago. [7] They expect to make $1,600 on it, but Randolph says if
they make half that they may thank their stars. I have spent all my
evenings of late in revising it, and it goes to the printers to-day.
George is going to deliver a literary lecture for the same object this
evening, this being the age of obedient parents. No, I never saw and
never painted any window-screens. The best things I have done are
trailing arbutus and apple-blossoms. A. invited me to do apple-blossoms
for her, and said she should have to own that I had more artistic
power than herself. I don't agree with her, but it is a matter of no
consequence, anyhow. It is a shame for you to buy Little Lou; I meant to
send you one and thought I had done so. The bright speeches are mostly
genuine, made by Eddy Hopkins and Ned and Charley P.

How came you to have blooming hepaticas? It is outrageous. My plants do
better this winter than ever before. I have had hyacinths in bloom, and
a plant given me, covered with red berries, has held its own. It hangs
in a glass basket the boys gave me and has a white dove brooding over
it. Let me inform you that I have lost my mind. A friend dined with us
on Sunday, and I asked him when I saw him last. "Why, yesterday," he
said, "when I met you at Randolph's by appointment."

There, I must stop and go to work on one of my numerous irons.

The "German tragedy" referred to fell into her hands in the spring of
1869, and her letters, written at the time, show how it delighted her.
It is, indeed, a literary gem. The works of its author, Baron Muench-
Bellinghausen--for Friederich Halm is a pseudonym--are much less known
in this country than they deserve to be. He is one of the most gifted of
the minor poets of Germany, a master of vivid style and of impressive,
varied, and beautiful thought. _Griselda_ first appeared at Vienna in
1835. It was enthusiastically received and soon passed through several
editions.

The scene of the poem is laid in Wales, in the days of King Arthur. The
plot is very simple. Percival, count of Wales, who had married Griselda,
the daughter of a charcoal burner, appears at court on occasion of a
great festival, in the course of which he is challenged by Ginevra, the
Queen, to give an account of Griselda, and to tell how he came to wed
her. He readily consents to do so, but has hardly begun when the Queen
and ladies of the court, by their mocking air and questions, provoke
him to such anger that swords are at length drawn between him and Sir
Lancelot, a friend of the Queen, and only the sudden interposition of
the King prevents a bloody conflict. The feud ends in a wager, by which
it is agreed that if Griselda's love to Percival endure certain tests,
the Queen shall kneel to her; otherwise, Percival shall kneel to the
Queen. The tests are applied, and the young wife's love, although
perplexed and tortured in the extreme, triumphantly endures them all.
The character of Griselda, as maiden, daughter, wife, mother, and
woman, is wrought with exquisite skill, and betokens in the author rare
delicacy and nobility of sentiment, as well as deep knowledge of the
human heart.

The following extract gives a part of Percival's description of
Griselda:

PERCIVAL.

Plague take these women's tongues!

GINEVRA (_to her party_).

Control your wit and mirth, compose your faces,
That longer yet this pastime may amuse us!
Now, Percival, proceed!

PERCIVAL.

What was I saying?
I have it now! Beside the brook she stood;
Her dusky hair hung rippling round her face.
And perched upon her shoulders sat a dove;
Right home-like sat she there, her wings scarce moving.
Now suddenly she stoops--I mean the maiden--
Down to the spring, and lets her little feet
Sink in its waters, while her colored skirt
Covered with care what they did not conceal;
And I within the shadow of the trees,
Inly admired her graceful modesty.
And as she sat and gazed into the brook,
Plashing and sporting with her snow-white feet,
She thought not of the olden times, when girls
Pleased to behold their faces smiling back
From the smooth water, used it as their mirror
By which to deck themselves and plait their hair;
But like a child she sat with droll grimaces,
Delighted when the brook gave back to her
Her own distorted charms; so then I said:
Conceited is she not.

KENNETH.

The charming child!

ELLINOR.

What is a collier's child to you! By heaven!
Don't make me fancy that you know her, Sir!

PERCIVAL.

And now resounding through the mountain far,
From the church-tower rang forth the vesper-bell,
And she grew grave and still, and shaking quickly
From off her face the hair that fell around it,
She cast a thoughtful and angelic glance
Upward, where clouds had caught the evening red.
And her lips gently moved with whispered words,
As rose-leaves tremble when the soft winds breathe.
O she is saintly, flashed it through my soul;
She marking on her brow the holy cross,
Lifted her face, bright with the sunset's flush,
While holy longing and devotion's glow,
Moistened her eye and hung like glory round her.
Then to her breast the little dove she clasped,
Embraced, caressed it, kissed its snow-white wings,
And laughed; when, with its rose-red bill, it pecked,
As if with longing for her fresh young lips.
How she'd caress it, said I to myself,
Were this her child, the offspring of her love!
And now a voice resounded through the woods,
And cried, "Griselda," cried it, "Come, Griselda!"
While she, the distant voice's sound distinguished,
Sprang quickly up, and scarcely lingering
Her feet to dry, ran up the dewy bank
With lightning speed, her dove in circles o'er her,
Till in the dusky thicket disappeared
For me the last edge of her flutt'ring robe.
"Obedient is she," said I to myself;
And many things revolving, turned I home.

GINEVRA.

By heaven! You tell your tale so charmingly,
And with such warmth and truth to life, the hearer
Out of your words can shape a human form.
Why, I can see this loveliest of maidens
Sit by the brook-side making her grimaces;
They are right pretty faces spite of coal-smut.
Is it not so, Sir Percival?

Mrs. Prentiss' translation is both spirited and faithful--faithful in
following even the irregularities of metre which mark the original. It
won the praise and admiration of some of the most accomplished judges in
the country. The following extract from a letter of the late Rev. Henry
W. Bellows, D.D., may serve as an instance:

I read it through at one sitting and enjoyed it exceedingly. What a
lovely, pure, and exalting story it is! I confess that I prefer it to
Tennyson's recent dramas or to any of the plays upon the same or
kindred themes that have lately appeared from Leighton and others. The
translation is melodious, easy, natural, and hardly bears any marks of
the fetters of a tongue foreign to its author. How admirable must have
been the knowledge of German and the skill in English of the translator!

_To Mrs. Condict, New York, May 2, 1876._

I do not know but I have been on too much of a drive all winter, for
besides writing my book I have been painting pictures for friends, and
am now at work on some wild roses for Mrs. D.'s golden wedding next
Monday, and yesterday I wrote her some verses for the occasion. The work
at the Hippodrome took a great deal of my time, and there is a poor
homeless fellow now at work in my garden, whom it was my privilege to
lead to Christ there, and who touched me not a little this morning by
bringing me three plants out of his scanty earnings. He has connected
himself with our Mission and has made friends there.

I do not know what Faber says about the silence of Christ, but I know
that as far as our own consciousness goes, He often answers never a
word, and that the grieved and disappointed heart must cling to Him more
firmly than ever at such times. We live in a mystery, and shall never
be satisfied till we see Him as He is. I am enjoying a great deal in a
great many ways, but I am afraid I should _run_ in if the gates opened.
If I go to the Centennial it will be to please some of the family, not
myself. You ask about my book; it is a sort of story; had to be to get
read; I could finish it in two weeks if needful. When I wrote it no
mortal knows; I should _say_ that about all I had done this winter was
to hold my Bible-reading, paint, and work in the revival. I have so few
interruptions compared with my previous life, that I hardly have learned
to adjust myself to them.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, Philadelphia, May 30, 1876._

We came here on a hospitable invitation to spend a week in the
Centennial grounds, and yesterday passed several hours in wandering
about, bewildered and amazed at the hosts of things we saw, and the
host we didn't see. We found ourselves totally ignorant of Norway, for
instance, whose contributions are full of artistic grace and beauty; and
I suppose we shall go on making similar discoveries about other nations.
As to the thirty-two art galleries we have only glanced at them.
What interested me most was groups of Norwegians, Lapps and other
Northerners, so life-like that they were repeatedly addressed by
visitors--wonderful reproductions. The extent of this Exhibition is
simply beyond description. The only way to get any conception of it is
to make a railroad circuit of the grounds.

I have had a _very_ busy winter; held a Bible-reading once a week,
written a book, painted lots of pictures to give away, and really need
rest, only I hate rest.... We find out where our hearts really are when
we get these fancied invitations homeward. I look upon Christians who
are, at such times, reluctant to go, with unfeigned amazement. The
spectacle, too often seen, of shrinking from the presence of Christ, is
one I can not begin to understand. I should think it would have been a
terrible disappointment to you to get so far on and then have to come
back; but we can be made willing for anything.

I am glad you liked Griselda; I knew you would. [8]

The extreme heat and her unusually enfeebled state rendered the summer
a very trying one; but its discomfort was in a measure relieved by the
extraordinary loveliness of the Dorset scenery this season. There was
much in this scenery to remind her of Chateau d'Oex, where she had
passed such happy weeks in the summer and autumn of 1858. If not marked
by any very grand features, it is pleasing in the highest degree. In
certain states of the atmosphere the entire landscape--Mt. Equinox,
Sunset Mountain, Owl's Head, Green Peak, together with the intervening
hills, and the whole valley--becomes transfigured with ever-varying
forms of light and shade. At such times she thought it unsurpassed by
anything of the kind she had ever witnessed, even in Switzerland.
The finest parts of this enchanting scene were the play of the
cloud-shadows, running like wild horses across the mountains, and the
wonderful sunsets; and both were in full view from the windows of
her "den." Her eyes never grew weary of feasting upon them. The
cloud-shadows, in particular, are much admired by all lovers of nature.
[9]

_To Mrs. George Payson, Kauinfels, July 8, 1876._

We have been here four weeks, and ought to have been here six, for I can
not bear heat; it takes all the life out of me. Last night when I went
up to my room to go to bed, the thermometer was 90 deg.... Are you not
going to the Centennial? George and I went on first and stayed at Dr.
Kirkbride's. They were as kind as possible, and we all enjoyed a great
deal. What interested me most were _wonderful_ life-like figures (some
said wax, but they were no more wax than you are) of Laplanders, Swedes,
and Norwegians, dressed in clothes that had been worn by real peasants,
and done by an artistic hand. Next to these came the Japanese
department; amazing bronzes, amazing screens ($1,000 a pair, embroidered
exquisitely), lovely flowers painted on lovely vases, etc., etc., etc.,
ad infinitum. The Norwegian jewelry was also a surprise and delight; I
don't care for jewelry generally, but these silvery lace-like creations
took me by storm. Among other pretty things were lots of English
bedrooms, exquisitely furnished and enormously expensive. The
horticultural department was very poor, except the rhododendrons, which
drove me crazy. I only took a chair twice. You pay sixty cents an hour
for one with a man to propel it, but can have one for three hours and
make your husband (or wife!) wheel you. You do not pay entrance fee for
children going in your arms, and I saw boys of eight or nine lugged
in by their fathers and mothers. We think everybody should go who can
afford it. Several countries had not opened when we were there; Turkey
and Spain, for instance; and if Switzerland was ready we did not see
it. The more I think of the groups I spoke of, the more I am lost in
admiration. A young mother kneeling over a little dead baby, and the
stern grief of the strong old grandfather, brought a lump into my
throat; the young father was not capable of such grief as theirs, and
sat by, looking subdued and tender, but nothing more. The artist must
be a great student of human nature. I went, every day, to study these
domestic groups; at first they did not attract the crowd; but later it
was next to impossible to get at them. Every one was taken from life,
and you see the grime on their knuckles. Almost every face expressed
strong and agreeable character. There were very few good and a great
many had pictures. Of statuary "The Forced Prayer" was very popular; the
child has his hands folded, but is in anything but a saintly temper, and
two tears are on his cheeks. I should like to own it. If I had had any
money to spare I should have bought something from Japan and something
from Denmark. I do not think any one can realise, who has not been
there, what an education such an Exposition is. China's inferiority to
Japan I knew nothing about.

A. goes out sketching every day. The other day I found her painting a
white flower which she said she got from the lawn; it was something like
a white lockspur, only very much prettier, and was, of course, not a
wild flower, as she supposed, or, at any rate, not indigenous to this
soil. She declared it had no leaves, but I made her go out and show me
the plant; it grew about ten inches high, with leaves like a lily, and
then came the pure, graceful flowers.

_To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, July 9, 1876._

There has been a great change here in religious interest, the foundation
of which is thought to have been laid in the Bible-readings. I am
ashamed to believe it, all I say and do seems so flat; but our Lord
can overrule incompetence. The ladies are eager to have the readings
resumed, but I can not undertake it unless I get stronger. The Rev. Mr.
and Mrs. Reed are doing a quiet work among non-churchgoers at the other
end of the village. She has been to every house in the neighborhood
and "compelled them to come in," having meetings at her own house. _Of
course the devil is on hand._ He reminds me of a slug that sits on my
rose bushes watching for the buds to open, when he falls to and devours
them, instanter. I am sure it is as true of him as of the Almighty, that
he never slumbers or sleeps. His impertinences increase daily.

One of the last things I did before leaving home was to decide to bring
here one of the Hippodrome converts, about whom I presume I wrote you.
We knew next to nothing about him, and I could ill afford to support
him; but I was his only earthly friend. He had no home, no work, and I
felt I ought to look after him. We gave him a little room in the old
mill, and he is perfectly happy; calls his room his "castle," does
not feel the heat, takes care of my garden, enjoys haying, has put
everything in order, is as strong as a horse, and a comfort to us all;
being willing to turn his hand to anything. In the evenings he has made
for me a manilla mat, of which I am very proud. He has been all over
the world and picked up all sorts of information. He went to hear Mr.
Prentiss' centennial address on the Fourth at a picnic, and I was
astonished when he came back at his intelligent account of it. Everybody
likes him, and he has proved a regular institution. I would not have had
a flower but for him, for I can not work out in such a blazing sun as we
have had. [10]

My book is to be called, I believe, "The Home at Greylock"; but I don't
know. My husband and Mr. Randolph fussed so over the title that I said
it would end in being called "Much Ado about Nothing." _They_, being
men, look at the financial question, to which I never gave a thought.
Even Satan has never so much as whispered, Write to make money; don't be
too religious in your books. Still he may do it, now I have put it into
his head. How little any of us know what he won't make us do! I enjoyed
the Centennial more than I expected to do, but got my fill very soon,
and was glad to go home.

No account of the Dorset home would be complete without some reference
to "the old mill." It had been dismantled during the war, but, at the
request of the neighbors, was now restored to its original use. It also
contained the boys' workshop, a bathing-room, an ice-house, a ram, and
a bowling-alley; formed, indeed, together with the pond and the boat,
part and parcel of the Dorset home itself.

_To Mrs. James Donaghe, Dorset, July 15, 1876._

I have hardly put pen to paper since I came here. I never could endure
heat; it always laid me flat. Yesterday there was a let-up to the torrid
zone, and to-day it is comparatively cool. Yesterday the mother of our
pastor here got her release. I cried for joy, for she has been a great
sufferer, and had longed to die. What a mystery death is! I went in to
see how she was, and she had just breathed her last, and there lay her
poor old body, eighty-two years old, looking as rent and torn as one
might suppose it would after a fight of thirty years between the soul
and itself. I have wondered if the heat, so dreadful to many, had not
been good for you. A rheumatic boy, who works for us off and on, says it
has been splendid for him. We heard yesterday that Dr. Schaff had lost
his eldest daughter after a ten days' illness with typhoid fever. He has
been greatly afflicted again and again and again by such bereavements,
but this must be hardest of all. [11] There is a different religious
atmosphere here now from anything we have ever known. The ladies hoped
to begin the Bible-readings right off, but it was out of the question. I
expect such a number of guests this week that I dare not undertake it.
I wish you were coming, too. How you would enjoy sitting on the piazza
watching the shadows on the mountains! We have had some magnificent
sunsets this season. Mr. Prentiss and I drive every night after tea, a
regular old Darby and Joan. Generally, I prefer working in the garden
to driving, but this time it has been too hot, and we have next to no
flowers. It quite grieves me that I have nothing to lay on Grandma
Pratt's coffin. However, _she won't care!_ Won't it be nice to get rid
of these frail, troublesome bodies of ours, and live without them! I
hope I shall see you in heaven, with plenty of room and no rheumatism.
How could you make such a time over that doggerel! [12] Such things are
a drug in this house. I thought I had a long letter from you, and it was
that stuff! My last book is all printed. My husband kindly corrected the
proof-sheets for me; a thing I hate to do. He likes the book better than
I do. I always get tired of my books by the time they are done. I read
very little; only some few devotional books over and over. I wonder if
you have read "Miracles of Faith"? It is a remarkable little book.
Do write and let me know how you and your husband are. We make great
account of our afternoon mail.

She alludes in the preceding letter to the guests she was expecting. The
entertainment of friends formed a marked feature of her Dorset life; and
it called into play the brightest traits of her character. Her visitors
always went away feeling like one who has been gazing upon a beautiful
landscape or listening to sweet music, so charming was her hospitality.
One of them, writing to her husband a year after her death, thus refers
to it:

I seem to see the Dorset hills now with their beautiful cloud-shadows
and lovely blue. I can see in my mind your pleasant home and all the
faces, including the dear one you miss this summer. What a delightful
home she made! The "good cheer" she furnished for the minds, hearts, and
bodies of her guests was something remarkable. I shall never forget my
visits; I was in a state of high entertainment from beginning to end.
What entertaining stories she told! what practical wisdom she gave out
in the most natural and incidental way! and what housekeeping! Common
articles of food seemed to possess new virtues and zest. I always went
away full of the marvels of the visit, as well as loaded down with many
little tokens of her kindness and thoughtfulness.

_To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, Sept. 9, 1876._

What interested me most at the Centennial was in the Main Building, and
two things stand out, prominently, in my memory. The first is groups of
Swedish figures, dressed in national costume, and all done by the hand
of a real artist. Especially examine the dead baby and its weeping
mother and rugged old wounded grandfather; it will remind you of the
words, "A little child shall lead them." Next in interest to me were the
Japanese bronzes and screens; next wares from Denmark, butterflies and
feathers from Brazil. In the art department a picture called "Betty"
in the British division, up in a corner, and in statuary "The Forced
Prayer." Both my girls agreed with me in the main; the boys cared most
for Machinery hall, and my husband for Queensland, for which I did not
care a fig.

Last Sunday was as perfect here as with you. My husband preached at
Pawlet, about six miles from here, and I went with him. He preached a
very earnest sermon on prayer. My Bible-reading is thronged, and I can't
but hope the Holy Spirit is helping my infirmities and blessing souls.
My heart yearns over these women, many of whom have faces stamped with
care. There is a class here that nobody has any idea how to get at.
To meet their case, apostolic work needs to be done. Do you know that
Irishmen are buying up the New England farms at a great rate?

_To Mrs. Donaghe, Dorset, Sept. 10, 1876._

The extraordinary heat has worked unfavorably on both my husband and
myself; he has been under medical treatment most of the time, forlorn
and depressed. I have just pushed through as I could; my Bible-reading,
which has been wonderfully attended, being the only work I have done.
The weather is cool now and I feel stronger.

A party of young people, who were coming to call on A., were upset just
above us; two had broken legs, others bruises and cuts, and one had both
knee-pans seriously injured. We got her here and put her to bed, and
then I started off to get the rest; but the surgeon, on arriving,
decided they should be removed at once, and got them all safely back to
Manchester.

_To Mrs. Condict, New York, Oct. 16, 1876._

Since my last letter I have been to Montreal, fled from and settled down
here. My book is out in England, and my husband sat up till midnight,
reading an English copy of it, although he had heard me read it aloud
when written, and read it twice in proof-sheets. He thinks it will be a
useful book. I feel sure you will agree with me in its main points. God
grant it may send many a bewildered mother to her knees! Miss S. called
here a few days ago; she has written a book called "The Fullness of the
Blessing,"--one object of which is to prove that sanctification is not,
can not be instantaneous.... I do hope the book will do good. It seems
timely to me, for I shudder when I hear that A. and B. "professed
sanctification" on such and such a day. My visit to Montreal gave me
indignant pain when I saw crowds kneeling to the Virgin, and not to
Christ, in those costly churches and cathedrals.

As to Miss ---- I do not know enough of her to form an opinion of
her state; I incline, however, to think that demoniac possession is
sometimes permitted. Fenelon, you know, thinks we should not be too
eager for spiritual delight. He is entirely right when he says that the
"night of faith" may witness a faith dearer to God than that of sensible
delight. I love Job when he says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust
in Him," more than I do David when he is in green pastures and beside
still waters; it does not require much faith to be happy there.

_Nov. 12th._--I am glad Greylock reached you in safety, and sorry I
could not correct its numerous misprints. Your question about Kitty I
don't quite understand; I did not mean to say that her parents had
no more trouble with her, but they had no more fights growing out of
self-will on both sides. I know that there is no end to trouble with
obstinate or otherwise naughty children, only if the mother lives
close to Christ the fault will be on their side, not hers. You speak,
by-the-bye, of my using the word Christ rather than the word Jesus. I
do so because it means more to my mind, and because the apostles use it
much more frequently. I do hope my book will be a comfort and help to
many well-meaning but inexperienced mothers. And I wish I practised more
perfectly what I preach. But I have my infirmities and find it hard to
be always on my guard.... A. and I are taking drawing-lessons of a very
superior French teacher, who offers us the privilege of spending our
whole time in her studio, with "conseil."

_The Home at Greylock_ was published the latter part of October. It
embodied, as she said, the results of thirty years of experience and
reflection. Its views of marriage and of the office of a Christian
mother found frequent expression in her other writings and in her
correspondence. She placed religion and love alike at the foundation of
a true home; the one to connect it with heaven above, the other to make
it a heaven upon earth. She enjoined it upon her young friends, as they
desired enduring domestic felicity, to marry first of all for love. To
one of them, who was tempted, as she feared, to marry out of gratitude
rather than from love, she wrote:

We women are exacting creatures; and you can not please us unless we
have the whole of you. Oh, if you knew the sacredness, the beauty, the
sweetness of married life, as I do, you would as soon think of entering
heaven without a wedding garment, as of venturing on its outskirts even,
save by the force of a passionate, overwhelming power that is stronger
than death itself!

How warmly she sympathised with mothers, especially with young mothers,
in their peculiar experiences and how great she thought their privilege
to be, her writings testify. The same trait is brought out still more
fully in her letters. "Only a mother," she wrote, "knows the varied
discipline of hopes and fears and joys and sorrows through which a
mother passes to glory--for this is the mother's pathway, and she rarely
walks on a higher road or one that may so lead to perfection." Some of
her letters addressed to bereaved mothers have already been given. But
if her heart was always touched with grief by the death of an infant, it
seemed to leap for joy whenever she heard that in the home of a friend a
child was coming or had just arrived. Here are samples of her letters on
such occasions.

_To Mrs. ----, Jan 10, 1874._

You little know into what a new world you are going to be introduced!
I wouldn't be a bit frightened, if I were you; it is ever so much more
likely that you'll get through safely, than that you will not; and then
what joy! You will be a very loving, devoted mother, and I hope this
little one will only be the beginning of a houseful. I spoke for ten,
but only had six; and our dear Lord had to take two of them back.... I
have just run over your letter again, and want to reiterate my charge
to you to feel no fear about your future. If you live and have a child,
your joy will be wonderful, but if you do not live (here) it will be
because you are going to dwell with Christ, which is better than having
a thousand children. So I see nothing but bright sides for you.

_To the Same, April 18 10, 1874._

By this time you ought to be able to receive letters; at any rate I am
going to write one and you can do as you please about reading it. Well,
isn't a baby an institution? I am sure you had no idea what a delightful
thing it is to be a mother, and that you have had a most bewildering
experience of both suffering and joy. I shall want to hear all about
the young gentleman when you get strong enough to write an enthusiastic
letter about him; nor have I any objection to hear how his mother is
behaving under these new circumstances.

What does your husband think of the upsetting of all home customs and
the introduction of this young hero therein? Thank him for sending me
the news in good season. I should not have liked it from a stranger. And
by-the-bye, don't let your children say parp-er and marm-er, as nine
children out of ten do. I daresay you never meant they should, having a
little mite of sense of your own. Now this is all a new mother ought
to read at once, so with lots of congratulations and thanksgivings,
good-bye.

The following is an extract from a letter to another friend, dated Feb.
20, 1875:

Your last letter was so eloquent in its happiness that in writing an
article for a magazine on the subject of education, I could not help
beginning "The King is coming," and depicting his heralds... I am indeed
rejoicing in your joy, and hope the little queen will long sit on the
right royal throne of your heart. Keep me posted as to Miss Baby's
progress. I know a family where the first son was called "Boy" for
years, the servants addressing him as "Master Boy."

Here are the opening sentences of the article referred to:

The King is at hand. Heralds have been announcing his advent in language
incomprehensible to man, but which woman understands as she does her
alphabet. A dainty basket, filled with mysteries half hidden, half
displayed; soft little garments, folded away in ranks and files; here
delicate lace and cambric; there down and feathers and luxury. The
King has come. Limp and pink, a nothing and nobody, yet welcomed and
treasured as everything and everybody, his wondrous reign begins.
His kingdom is the world. His world is peopled by two human beings.
Yesterday, they were a boy and a girl. To-day, they are man and woman,
and are called father and mother.

Their new King is imperious. He has his own views as to the way he shall
live and move and have his being. He has his own royal table, at which
he presides in royal pomp. His waiting-maid is refined and educated--his
superior in everyway. He takes his meals from her when he sees fit; if
he can not sleep, he will not allow her to do so. His treasurer is a man
whom thousands look up to, and reverence, but, in this little world,
he is valued only for the supplies he furnishes, the equipages he
purchases, the castle in which young royalty dwells. The picture is not
unpleasing, however; the slaves have the best of it, after all.

The reign is not very long. Two years later, there is a descent from the
throne, to make room for the Queen. She is a great study to him. He puts
his fingers into her eyes to learn if they are little blue lakelets. He
grows chivalrous and patronizing. So the world of home goes on. The King
and Queen give place to new Kings and Queens, but, though dethroned,
they are still royal; their wants are forestalled, they are fed,
clothed, instructed, but above all, beloved. When did their education
begin? At six months? A year? Two years? No; it began when _they_ began;
the moment they entered the little world they called theirs. Every touch
of the mother's hand, every tone of her voice, educates her child. It
never remembers a time when she was not its devoted lover, servant,
vassal, slave. Many an ear enjoys, is soothed by music, while ignorant
of its laws. So the youngest child in the household is lulled by
uncomprehended harmonies from its very birth. Affections group round and
bless it, like so many angels; it could not analyse or comprehend an
angel, but it could feel the soft shelter of his wings. [13]

The following was addressed to a friend, whose home was already blessed
with six fine boys:

DORSET, _Sept. 16, 1868._

Dear Mr. B.:--I am just as glad as I can be! I _said_ it was a girl, and
I _knew_ it was a girl, and that is the reason it _is_ a girl. Give my
best love to Mrs. B., and tell her I hope this little damsel will be to
her like a Sabbath of rest, after the six week and work days she has had
all along. It is hard to tell which one loves best, one's girls or one's
boys, but it is pleasant to have both kinds... I hope your place has as
appropriate a name as ours has had given to it--"Saints' Rest"!!--and
that you will fill it full of saints and angels; only let them be girls,
you have had boys enough.

* * * * *

III.

The Year 1877. Death of her Cousin, the Rev. Charles H. Payson. Illness
and Death of Prof. Smith. "Let us take our Lot in Life just as it
comes." Adorning one's Home. How much Time shall be given to it? God's
Delight in His beautiful Creations. Death of Dr. Buck. Visiting the sick
and bereaved. An Ill-turn. Goes to Dorset. The Strangeness of Life.
Kauinfels. The Bible-reading. Letters.

During the early months of 1877 Mrs. Prentiss' sympathies were much
excited by sickness and death among her friends.

"I spend a deal of time," she wrote, "at funerals and going to see
people in affliction, and never knew anything like it." And wherever she
went, it was as a daughter of consolation. The whole year, indeed,
was marked by a very tender and loving spirit, as also by unwonted
thoughtfulness. But it was marked no less by the happiest, most untiring
activity of both hands and brain. During the month of January she wrote
the larger portion of a new serial for The Christian at Work. It would
seem as if she foresaw the end approaching and was pressing toward it
with eager steps and a glad heart.

_To her eldest Son, New York, Jan. 28, 1877._

The great event of last week was cousin Charles' unexpected death. [14]
Your father and I attended the funeral, in his church, which was crowded
to overflowing with a weeping audience. Most of the ministers we know
were there. Cousin G. came on Friday night and said nothing would
comfort him like hearing your father preach and he promised to do so. I
went with him to Inwood, and we have just got back. Your father preached
a beautiful sermon and paid a glowing tribute to cousin Charles in it,
and I am very glad I went. After the funeral yesterday I came home and
put up some chicken-jelly I had made for Prof. Smith, and carried it
down to him; there I met Dr. Gould, of Rome, who had seen him, and said
he considered his case a very critical one. _Feb. 4th_.--Your father was
invited to repeat his lecture on Recollections of Hurstmonceux and Rydal
Mount, and did so, yesterday morning, in our lecture-room, which was
filled with a fine audience, mostly strangers. What have you on your
natural bracket? And have you put up your leaves on your windows?
Mine are looking splendidly. H. is burning one of them with a
magnifying-glass your father gave me at Christmas. The sun does lie
delightfully in this room. I must now go to the Smiths. All send love.

Prof. Smith passed away peacefully in the early morning on the 7th of
February. One of his last conscious utterances was addressed to Mrs.
Prentiss: "I have ceased to cumber myself with the things of time and
sense, and have had some precious thoughts about death." Henry Boynton
Smith was one of those men who enrich life by their presence, and seem
to render the whole world poorer by their absence. He was strongly
attached to Mrs. Prentiss; for more than forty years the relation
between him and her husband resembled that of brothers; Mrs. Smith was
one of her oldest and most beloved friends, and for a quarter of a
century the two families had dwelt together in unity. And, then, with
one of the saddest and one of the happiest events of her domestic
history--the burial of her little Bessie, at which he ministered with
Christlike sympathy, and at the baptism of her Swiss boy who bore his
name--he was tenderly associated. It is not strange, therefore, that his
death, as well as the wearisome years of invalidism which preceded it,
touched her deeply. What manner of man he was; how gifted, wise and
large-hearted; how devoted to the cause of his Lord and Saviour; what a
leader and master-workman in sacred science and in the Church of Christ;
how worthy of love and admiration--all this may be seen and read
elsewhere. [15]

_To Mrs. Condict, Feb. 14, 1877._

Before I go down to the meeting at Mrs. D.'s I must have a little chat
with you, in reply to your last two letters. I felt like shrieking aloud
when you contrasted your life with mine. But it is impossible to state
fully why. Yet I may say one thing; I have had to learn what I teach in
loneliness, suffering, conflict, and dismay, which I do not believe you
have physical strength to bear. The true story of my life will never be
written. But whatever you do, don't envy it. And I do not mean by that,
that I am a disappointed, unhappy woman; _far from it_. But I enjoy and
suffer intensely, and one insulting word about Greylock, for instance,
goes on stinging and cutting me, amid forgetfulness of hundreds of kind
ones. [16] Let us take our lot in life just as it comes, courageously,
patiently, and faithfully, never wondering at anything the Master does.
I am concerned just as you are about my interest in things of time and
sense. But I have not the faintest doubt that if we could have all we
want in Christ, inferior objects would fade and fall. But we live in a
strange world, amid many claims on time and thought; we can not dwell
in a convent, and must dwell among human beings, and fall more or less
under their influence. We shall get out of all this by and by. _Feb.
27th._--This winter I am drawing in charcoal under an accomplished
teacher; she has so large a class that I had to withdraw from it and
take private lessons. She has invited A. to assist her in teaching
little ones twice a week, which materially curtails her bill. A. was
introduced to one youth, aged five, as _Monsieur_ So and So; he had his
easel, his big portfolio, and charcoal, in great style, but only took
one lesson, he hated it so. I don't see what his mother was made of. I
sympathise with your fear of spending too much time adorning your home,
etc., etc. It is a nice question how far to go and how far to stay. But
I honestly believe that a bare, blank, prosaic house makes religion
appear dreadfully homely. We enjoy seeing our children enjoy their work
and their play; is our Father unwilling to let us enjoy ours? In a
German book [17] I translated, a little boy is very happy in making a
scrap-book for a little friend, and God is represented as being glad to
see him so happy. And I don't believe He begrudged your making me that
pretty picture, or did not wish me to make yours. (By-the-bye, when you
have time, tell me how to do it.) It seems to me we are meant to use
_all_ the faculties God gives us; to abuse them is another thing. I feel
that I am having a vacation, and wonder how long it is going to last. I
do not know how I should have stood the _tremendous_ change in my
life, through my husband's change of profession, if I had not had this
resource of painting. O, how I do miss his preaching! How I miss my
pastoral work! Dr. Buck is on his dying bed, and longing to go. [18]

_To her eldest Son, New York, March 11, 1877._

We had an excellent sermon from Dr. Vincent this morning, which he
repeated by request. Last evening we had Chi Alpha, and as I saw this
body of men enter the dining-room, I wondered whether I had borne any
minister to take up your father's and my work when we lay it down.

_18th._--I thought within myself, as I listened to a sermon on the union
of Christ and the believer, whether I should have the bliss of hearing
you preach. Let me see; how old should I have to be, at soonest?
Sixty-two; the age at which my ancestors died, unless they died young. I
got a beautiful letter, a few days ago, from a minister in Philadelphia,
the Rev. Mr. Miller, who has 1,300 members in his church, and says if he
could afford it he would give a copy of Greylock to every young mother
in it.

I went to Mrs. P.'s funeral on Friday. She wanted to die suddenly, and
had her wish. She ate her breakfast on Tuesday; then went into the
office and arranged papers there; her husband went out at ten, and
shortly after, she began to feel sick and the girls made her go to bed.
One of them went out to do some errands, and the other sat in the room;
she soon heard a sound that made her think her mother wanted something,
and on going to her found her dead. Dr. P. got home at twelve, long
after all was over. He told me it was the most extraordinary death he
ever heard of, but his theory was that a small clot of blood arrested
the circulation, as she had no disease. I had a talk with C. about his
wife's sudden death. I had already written him and sent him a note.
I cut from the Evening Post the slip I enclose about Mr. Moody's
question-drawer. I wish I could hope for as sudden a death as Mrs. P.'s.

_To Mrs. Condict, April 16, 1877._

I am glad you liked the picture. Did you know that you too can get
leaves and flowers in advance of spring, by keeping twigs in warm water?
I had forsythia bloom, and other things leafed beautifully. It is said
that apple and pear blossoms will come out in the same way, if placed in
the sun in glass cans. I have been thinking, lately, that if I enjoy
my imperfect work, how God, who has made so many beautiful, as well as
useful, things, must enjoy His faultless creations. My work is still to
go from house to house where sickness and death are so busy. Mrs. F. G.
has just lost her two only children within a day of each other. Neither
her mother nor sister could go near her during their illness or after
their death, because of the flock of little ones in their house, and it
was not safe to have a funeral. Dr. Hastings made a prayer; he said the
scene was heart-rending.

_May 3d._--Dr. Storrs preached for us last Sunday, and said one striking
thing I must tell you on the passage, "They were stoned, were sawn
asunder, they were tempted," etc. He said many thought the word
_tempted_ out of place amid so many horrors, but that it held its true
position, since few things could cause such anguish to a Christian heart
as even a suggestion of infidelity to its Lord. To this a Kempis adds
the _hell_ of not knowing whether one had yielded or not.

_May 17th._--"Misery loves company"; and so I am writing to you. Perhaps
it will be some consolation to you that I too have been knocked up for
two weeks, one of which I spent in bed. Nothing serious the matter, only
put down and kept down; not agreeable, but necessary. How _astounded_
we shall be when we wake up in heaven and find our hateful old bodies
couldn't get in!... M. is making, and H. has made, a picture scrap-book
for a hospital in Syria. Your mother might enjoy that. We all _crave_
occupation. "Imprisonment with hard labor" never seems to me so
frightful as imprisonment and nothing to do, does. Did you ever hear the
story of the man who spent years in a dark dungeon, idle, and then found
some pins in his coat, which he spent years in losing, and crawling
about and finding?

Well, I have got rid of a wee morsel of this weary day in writing this,
and you will get rid of another morsel in reading it. So we'll patch
each other up, and limp along together, and by and by go where there it
no limping and no patching.

The new serial, her Bible-readings, and painting, with visits to sick-
rooms and to the house of mourning, during the early half of this year,
left little time for correspondence. Her letters were few and brief;
but they are marked, as was her life, by unusual quietness and depth of
feeling. Her delight was still to speak in them a helpful and cheering
word to souls struggling with their own imperfections, or with trials
of the way. A single extract will illustrate the gentle wisdom of her
counsels:

I think there is such a thing as peace of conscience even in this
life. I do not mean careless peace, or heedless peace; I mean calm
consciousness of an understanding, so to speak, between the soul and its
Lord. A wife, for instance, may say and do things to her husband that
show she is human; yet, at the same time, the two may live together
loyally, and be happy. And unless a Christian is aware of having on hand
an idol, dearer than God, I see no reason why he should not live in
peace, even while aware that he is not yet finished (perfect). We love
God more than we are aware; when He slays us we trust in Him, when He
strikes us we kiss His hand.

Her own mood at this time was singularly grave and pensive. She felt
more and more keenly the moral puzzle and contradictions of existence.
"From beginning to end, in every aspect," she wrote to a friend, "life
grows more mysterious to me, not to say queer--for that is not what I
mean. Such strange things are all the time happening, and even good
people doing and saying things that nearly drive one wild.... We live in
a mixed state, in a kind of see-saw: we go up and then we go down; go
down and then fly up." Still this strange, ever-changing mystery of
life, although it sometimes perplexed her in the extreme, did not make
her unhappy. "I have great sources of enjoyment," she adds, "and do
enjoy a good deal; infinitely more than I deserve."

Early in June she and the younger children went to Dorset. On reaching
there, she wrote to her husband:

Here we are, sitting by the fire in our dear little parlor. We made a
very comfortable journey to Manchester, but the ride from there here was
rather cheerless and cold, as they forgot to send wraps. The neighbors
had sent in various good things, and the strawberries looked very nice.
It rains, but M. and I have surveyed the garden, and she says it is
looking better than usual.

I only wish you were here. Your love is intensely precious to me, as I
know mine is to you. How thankful we ought to be that we have loved
each other through thick and thin! This is God's gift. I can not write
legibly with this pencil, nor see very well, as it is a dark day, and
yet too early for a lamp.

The latter part of June she made a short visit with her husband to
Montreal. A pleasant incident of this journey was an excursion to
Quebec, where two charming days were spent in seeing the Falls of
Montmorenci, the Plains of Abraham, and other objects of interest in and
about that remarkable city. During the ride in the cars from Montreal to
St. Albans, she called the attention of her husband to a paragraph from
an English newspaper containing an account of the death of a miner by an
explosion, on whose breast was found a lock of hair inscribed with the
name of "Jessie." She remarked that the incident would serve as an
excellent hint for a story. This was the origin of _Gentleman Jim_, the
pathetic little tale published shortly after her death.

Soon after her return from Montreal she began painting in water-colors,
which afforded her much delight during the rest of her life. The
following note to Mrs. Ellen S. Fisher, of Brooklyn, dated July 2d, will
show how her lessons were taken:

Will you kindly inform me as to your method of teaching your system
of water-colors by mail, and as to terms. I have not had time to do
anything in that line, as I had to go to Canada (by-the-bye, you can get
delightful Chinese white paint there in tubes). My daughter says she
thinks she heard you say that you would paint a little flower-piece
reasonably, or perhaps you have one to spare now. I should like a few
wild flowers against a blue sky. I got half a dozen Parian vases at
Montreal--each a group of three--and filled with daisies and a few
grasses, they are exquisite. Some of them are in imitation of the hollow
toadstools one finds in the woods.

_To Mrs. Condict, Kauinfels, July 23, 1877._

Kauinfels is a word we invented, after spending no little time, by
referring to a spot in a favorite brook as "the place where the old cow
fell in"; it looked so German and pleased us so much that we concluded
to give our place that name. We are fond of odd names. We have a dog
Pharaoh and a horse Shoo Fly. Then we had Shadrach, Meseck, and Abednego
for cats. We had a dog named Penelope Ann--a splendid creature, but we
had to part with her. My Bible-reading began two weeks ago, and neither
rain nor shine keeps people away. For a small village the attendance is
very large. I do not know how much good they do, but it is a comfort to
try.

I can't get over Miss ---'s tragical end. She must have suffered
dreadfully. I do not doubt her present felicity, nor that she counts her
life on earth as anything more than a moment's space. I do not feel sure
that she did me any good. I saw so much that was morbid when she visited
me here, that I never enjoyed her as I did when I knew her less. But
there is nothing morbid about her now.

_To Mrs. James Donaghe, Dorset, Aug. 20, 1877._

Yesterday was the first fine day we have had in a long time, and, as I
sat enjoying it on the front porch, how I wished I could transport you
here and share these mountains with you! To-day is equally fine, and how
gladly would I bottle it up and send it to you! A score of times I have
asked myself why I do not bring you here, and then been reminded that
you can not leave your husband.

I do not write many letters this summer. We have three or four guests
nearly all the time. This uses up what little brain I have left, and by
half-past eight or nine I have to go to bed. I am unusually well, but
work hard in the garden all the forenoon and get tired. Yesterday the
Rev. Mr. Reed, of Flushing, preached a most impressive sermon on the
denial of self. In the afternoon he preached to a neighborhood meeting
at his own house, to which we three girls go, namely, M., her
friend Hatty K., and myself. I give Thursdays pretty much up to my
Bible-reading--studying for it in the morning and holding it at three in
the afternoon. Utter unfitness for this or any other work for the Master
makes me very dependent on Him. The service is largely attended, and how
I get courage to speak to so many, I know not.

[Illustration: The Dorset Home.]

A. is gone to Portland and Prout's Neck. Mr. P. is unusually well this
summer, and has actually worked a little in my garden. He is going to
Saratoga this week to visit Mrs. Bronson.... M. is a kind of supplement
to her father; I love in her what I love in him, and she loves in me
what he loves; we never had a jar in our lives, and are more like
twin-sisters than mother and daughter. Hatty K. is like a second M. to
me. At this moment they are each painting a plate. They work all the
morning in the garden, and in the afternoon sit in my room sewing "for
the poor" like two Dorcases, or drive, or row on the pond. They also
study their Greek Testament together like a pair of twins. Just here Mr.
P. came driving up to take me out to make calls. We made three together,
and then I made three alone. Now we are going to have tea, and should be
glad if you could take it with us.

_To Mrs. Condict, Kauinfels, Sept. 13, 1877._

Since you left, I have been very busy in various ways; among other
things, helping Hatty collect her last trophies, pack her various
plants, and the like. Then there is a woman, close by, who is very sick
and very poor, and the parson and his wife (meaning himself and myself)
must needs pack a big basket of bread, butter, tea, apples, etc., for
her watchers and family, with extract of beef for her. That was real
fun, as you may suppose. I mean to devote Thursdays to such doings,
including the Bible-readings. I took for my Bible-reading this
afternoon, the subject of confession of sin, and should really like to
know what perfectionists would say to the passages of Scripture relating
to it. However, I know they would explain them away or throw them under
the table, as they do all the Bible says about the discipline of life.
Our bad Pharaoh lifted up his voice in every hymn at Mrs. Reed's last
Sunday, and little Albert fairly shrieked with laughter. If next Sunday
is pleasant we are to go to Pawlet to preach. Good-night. [19]

_To Mrs. Fisher, Kauinfels, Sept. 15, 1877._

Excuse my keeping your pictures so long. It is owing to my having so
much company. We feel it a duty to share our delightful home here with
friends.

Will you send me some more pictures, and in your letter please tell me
how to make the light-green in the large arbutus leaf; I tried all sorts
of experiments, but failed to get such a toned-down tint. My copy is
pretty, as I have improved a good deal on the whole; but my work looks
parvenu. I had to use a powerful magnifying-glass to puzzle out your
delicate touches, and your work bore the test, it is so well done. My
work, viewed in the same way, is horrid. A. has been to Portland and
found there some exquisite placques; some of them of a _very_ delicate
cream color; others of a least suspicion of pink. She began to paint
thorn apples on one; but a day or two later, found some of the foliage
we had thrown away, turned to most delicious browns; so she painted
the leaves in those shades, only--and the effect is richly and gravely
autumnal. I hope your eyes are better.

* * * * *

IV.

Return to Town. Recollections of this Period. "Ordinary" Christians and
spiritual Conflict. A tired Sunday Evening. "We may make an Idol of our
Joy." Publication of _Pemaquid_. Kezia Millet.

She returned to town early in October and began at once to prepare for
the winter's work. Her industry was a marvel. The following references
to this period are from reminiscences, written by her husband after her
death:

She lost not a day, scarcely an hour. The next eight months were among
the busiest of her life; and in some respects, I think, they were also
among the happiest. She resumed her painting with new zeal and delight.
It was a never-failing resource, when other engagements were over. Hour
after hour, day after day, and week after week she would sit near the
western window of her sunshiny chamber, absorbed in this fascinating
occupation. Rarely did I fail to find her there, on going in to kiss her
good-bye, as I started for my afternoon lecture. How often the scene
comes back again! Were I myself a painter I could reproduce it to the
life. Her posture and expression of perfect contentment, her quick and
eager movements, all are as vividly present to my mind, as if I saw and
parted from her there yesterday! One morning each week was devoted to
her Bible-reading; the others, when pleasant, were generally spent in
going down town with M. in quest of painting materials, shopping, making
calls, etc., etc.

She was much exercised in the early part of the winter by a burglary,
which robbed her of a beautiful French mantel clock given her on our
silver wedding-day by a dear friend; and by the loss of my watch, stolen
from me in the cars on my way home from the Seminary--a beautiful watch
with a chain made of her hair and that which once "crowned little heads
laid low." She had ordered it of Piguet, when we were in Geneva in 1858,
and given it to me in memory of our marriage. But _her_ grief over the
loss of the watch was small compared with mine, then and even since.
What precious memories can become associated with such an object! One
of the books which she read during the winter was "Les Miserables" by
Victor Hugo. She read it in the original in a copy given her by Miss
Woolsey. She was quite captivated by this work, and some of its most
striking scenes and incidents she repeated to me, during successive
mornings, before we got up. Her power of remembering and reproducing, in
all its details, and with all the varying lights and shades, any story
which she had read was something almost incredible. It always seemed
to me like magic. Her father possessed the same power and perhaps she
inherited it from him. [20]

The following letter will show that while her mind was still exercised
about the doctrines taught by writers on the "Higher Life" and "Holiness
through Faith," it was in the way of a deepening conviction that these
doctrines are not in harmony with the teaching of Scripture or with
Christian experience. Referring to some of these writers, she says:

_To a Christian Friend, Oct. 21, 1877._

I have not only no unkind feeling towards them, but have no doubt they
have lived near to Christ. But this I believe to have been their state
of mind for years, though perhaps not consciously: Most Christians are
"ordinary." Nearly all are a set of miserable doubters. Most of them
believe the Christian life a warfare. Most of them imagine it is also a
state of discipline, and make much of chastening, even going so far as
to thank God for His strokes of Fatherly love! Strange love, to be sure!
They also fancy they can work out their own salvation.

Now we are not "ordinary" Christians. We understand God's Word
perfectly; and when He says, "Work out your own salvation," He means
nothing by it except this, that _He_ will work it in you to will and to
do, and you are to do nothing, but _let_ Him thus work. And furthermore,
we know His mind beyond dispute; we can not err in judgment. Therefore,
if you doubt our doctrine, it is the same as doubting God, and you
should fall on your knees and pray to read Scripture as we do.

As to the Christian life being a conflict, why, you "ordinary"
Christians are all wrong. Satan never tempts us, though he tempted our
Lord; it comes natural to us to go into Canaan with one bound; the
old-fashioned saints were ridiculous in "fighting the good fight of
faith." Look at the characters in the Bible, "resisting unto blood,
striving against sin"; what blunderers they were to do that!... In our
enlightened day nobody is "chastened"; it used to be done to every son
the Father received and it was a token of His love. He knows better now.
He chastens no one; or if He does, we will cover it up and ignore it;
religion is all rapture, and this is not a scene of probation. Still if
you insist that you have been smitten, it only shows how very "ordinary"
you are, and how angry God is with you.

Now you may ask why I have taken time to write this, since you are not
led away by these errors. Well, they are pleasant and very plausible
writers, and it has puzzled me to learn just where they were wrong. So I
have been thinking aloud, or thinking on paper, and perhaps you may find
one or more persons entangled in this attractive web, and be able to
help them out. How a good man and a good woman ever fell into such
mischievous mistakes, I can not imagine....

As to you and me, I see nothing strange in the weaning from self God is
giving us. It is natural to believe that He weans us from the breast of
comfort in which we had delighted, because He has strong meat in store
for us. I know I was awfully selfish about my relation to Christ, and
went about for years on tip-toe, as it were, for fear of disturbing and
driving Him away; but I do not know that I should _dare_ to live so
again. And how better can He show us our weakness than by making it
plain that we, who thought we were so strong in prayer, are almost "dumb
before Him"! My dear friend, I believe more and more in the _deep_
things of God.

"STRENGTH is born
In the deep silence of long-suffering hearts,
Not amid joy."

Imagine soldiers getting ready for warfare, being told by their
commander that they had no need to drill, and had nothing to do but
drink nectar! As to being brought low, I will own that I have not been
entirely left of God to my own devices and desires; if I had been, I
should have gone overboard. He had such a grip of me that He _couldn't_
let go. I saw a man apply a magnet to steel pens the other day, and
that's the way I clung to God; there was no power in me to hold on, the
magnetism was in Him, and so I hung on. Wasn't it so with you?

And now to change the subject again; if you have any faded ferns, vines,
leaves on hand, you can paint and make them beautiful again. For a light
wall, paint them with Caledonian brown, and they will have a very rich
effect. I expect a patent-right for this invention.

The vivid sense of human weakness and of the sharp discipline of life,
which she expresses in this letter, was deepened by hearing what a sea
of trouble some of her friends had been suddenly engulphed in. Early in
October she wrote to one of them:

For some time before I left Dorset, your image met me everywhere I went,
and I felt sure something was happening to you, though not knowing
whether you were enjoying or suffering. And since then there has been
nothing I could do for you but to pray that your faith may bear this
test and that you may deeply realise that--

God is the refuge of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade.

The longer I live the more conscious I am of human frailty, and of the
constant, overwhelming need we _all_ have of God's grace.... I can not
but hope things will turn out better than they seem. But if not, there
is God; nothing of this sort can take Him from you. You have longed and
prayed for holiness; this fearful event may bring the blessing. May God
tenderly bless and keep you, dear child.

But vivid as was her sense of human weakness and of the imperfections
cleaving to the best of men, while yet in the flesh, she still held fast
to the conviction, uttered so often in "Urbane and His Friends" and in
her other writings, that it is the privilege of every disciple of Jesus
to attain, by faith, to high degrees of Christian holiness, and that,
too, without consuming a whole lifetime in the process. In a letter to a
young friend she says:

Your letter shows me that I have expressed my views very inadequately in
Urbane, or that you have misunderstood what I have said there....
"There _is_ a shorter way"; a better way; God never meant us to spend a
lifetime amid lumbering machinery by means of which we haul ourselves
laboriously upward; the work is His, not ours, and when I said I
believed in "holiness through faith," I was not thinking of the book by
that title, but of utterances made by the Church ages before its author
saw the light of day. We _can not_ make ourselves holy. We are born
sinners. A certain school believe that they are "kept" by the grace of
God from all sin. I do not say that they are not. But I do say that I
think it requires superhuman wisdom to _know_ positively that one not
only keeps all God's law, but leaves no single duty undone. Think a
minute. Law proceeds from an infinite mind; can finite mind grasp it
so as to know, through its own consciousness, that it comes up to this
standard? On the other hand, I do believe that a way has been provided
for us to be set free from an "evil conscience"; that we may live in
such integrity and uprightness as to be at peace with God; not being
afraid to let His pure eye range through and through us, finding
humanity and weakness, but also finding something on which His eye can
rest with delight--namely, His own Son. Every day I live I see that
faith is my only hope, as perhaps I never saw it before.... Read over
again the experience of Antiochus; he got in early life what dear Dr.
---- only found on his deathbed, and so may you.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Oct. 28, 1877._

I am too tired on Sunday evenings to find much profit in reading, and
have been sitting idle some minutes, asking myself how I should
spend the hour till bed-time, if I could pick and choose among human
occupations. I decided that if I had just the right kind of a neighbor,
I should like to have her come in, or if there was the right kind of
a little prayer-meeting round the corner, I would go to that. Then I
concluded to write to you, in answer to your letter of July 24. I write
few letters during the summer, because it seems a plain duty to keep out
of doors as much as I possibly can; then we have company all the time,
and they require about all the social element there is in me. We feel
that we owe it to Him who gives us our delightful home to share it with
others, especially those who get no mountain breezes save through us; of
some I must pay travelling expenses, or they can not come at all. Their
enjoyment is sufficient pay. My Bible-reading takes all the time of two
days not spent in outdoor exercise, as I have given up almost everything
of help in preparation for it but that which is given me in answer to
prayer and study of the Word. I am kept, to use a homely expression,
with my nose pretty close to the grindstone; in other words, am kept
low and little. But God blesses the work exactly as if I were a better
woman. Sometimes I think how poor He must be to use such instruments as
He does.

How is the niece you spoke of as so ill and so happy? For my part I am
_confounded_ when I see people hurt and distressed when invited home.
How a loving Father must feel when His children shrink back crying, "I
have so much to live for!" or, in other words, so little to die for. It
frightens me sometimes to recall such cases.

And now I am going to tote my old head to bed. It is 59 years old and
has to go early.

_To Mrs. Fisher, Oct. 31, 1877._

With young children, and artistic work to do, the wonder is not that you
have to neglect other things, but that you ever find time to attend to
any one outside of house and home. I do not want you to make a care and
trouble of me; I feel it a privilege to _try_ even to copy anything from
your hand, and am willing to bide my time. It is shocking to think of
your summer's work being burned up; no money can compensate for such a
loss--I hate to think of it. I have had your landscape framed, and it is
the finest thing in the house.

_Nov. 9th._--I have your apple-blossoms ready to mail with this. I found
the subject very difficult, and at one time thought I should have to
give it up; but your directions are so clear and to the point that I
have succeeded in getting a picture we all think pretty, though wanting
in the tender grace of yours.

The picture, which is a gentle blaze of beauty, has just reached me. We
have had burglars in the house, and one of my songs of praise is that
they did not take the little gem I got from you last summer. Glad you
are a _woman_ and not all artist.

_To Mrs. Condict, Nov. 24, 1877_

As to the running fern, I paint it the color of black walnut, and round
placques it looks like carving. Emerald green I hate, but it is a
popular color, and A. was obliged to put it into the flower pictures
she painted on portfolios. I am glad you are still interested in your
painting. I have just finished the second reading of Miss Smiley's book,
and marked passages which I am sure you will like. I will mail my copy
to you. As to joy--"the fruits of the Spirit" come naturally to those in
the Spirit, and joy is one. But we may make an idol of our joy, and so
have to part with it. There may come a period when God says, virtually,
to the soul, "You clung to Me when I smiled upon and caressed you; let
Me see how you will behave when I smile and speak comfortably no more."
Fenelon says, "To be constantly in a state of enjoyment that takes away
the feeling of the cross, and to live in a fervor of devotion that keeps
Paradise constantly open--this is not dying upon the cross and becoming
nothing." [21]

When I look at the subject at a distance, as it were, remembering that
this life is mere preparation for the next, it seems _likely_ that we
shall have religious as well as other discipline; if we ascend the mount
of Transfiguration it is not that we may _dwell_ there, though it is
natural to wish we could. And the fact is, no matter what professions
of rapture people make, if they believe in Christ and love Him as they
ought to do, what they have enjoyed will be nothing when compared with
going to live _with_ Him forever, surrounded by sanctified beings all
united in adoring Him. When I think of this my courage grows apace, and
I say to myself, I may never live in heaven again here below; but I
certainly shall, above; and can't I be patient till then? I wonder if
you know that I am going to begin a Bible-reading on the first Wednesday
in December? I have a very kind letter from Mr. Peter Carter, who says
Kezia would make the fortune of any book.

Kezia is one of the characters in _Pemaquid; or, a Story of Old Times
in New England_, then recently published. She had written it with
"indescribable ease and pleasure," to use her own words, mostly during
the previous January. The pictures of New England life--especially its
religious life--in old times are vivid and faithful; and the character
of Kezia Millet for originality, quiet humor, and truth to nature,
surpasses any other in her writings, with the exception, perhaps, of
Aunt Avery in "Fred and Maria and Me."

The following is an extract from a letter of Mr. Hallock, the publisher
of "The Christian at Work," dated Aug. 25, 1877, in which he begged her
to gratify its readers by telling them more about Ruth and Juliet. She
accordingly added some pages to the last chapter, although not quite
enough to satisfy the curiosity about Juliet:

Let me express to you my _personal_ thanks for your most excellent
serial. I feel that it has done a real good to thousands. You need to
be placed in my position, receiving hundreds of letters daily from your
readers, to be able to fully appreciate how intensely interested they
are in the story. It does not seem to satisfy them to feel assured of
Ruth's marriage, but they want _to be there_ and see it. Juliet, too, is
not with them, as with you, a mere impersonation, but a living reality,
and they will never rest till they hear from her. If I was a betting
man I would bet five to one that what your husband struck out, is just
exactly what is wanted. What do we men know about such things, anyhow?

A lady friend, well qualified to judge, writes to her:

I have read "Pemaquid," and have laughed till I cried, then cried and
laughed together. In my humble opinion it is the brightest book you have
written. You know how to make a saint and how to make a sinner. As for
old Kezia Millet, with her great loving heart, if she is not a model of
Christian "_consistency_" and a natural born poet, where will you find
one? She is perfectly fascinating. How do you keep your wit so ready and
so bright? I suppose you'll answer, "by using it." The chapter which
contains Mrs. Woodford's interview with Rev. Mr. Strong (the dear old
saint) in her penitential mood, is very, very admirable.

_To Mrs. George Payson, Dec. 20, 1877._

Before the year quite departs, I must tell you, my dear Margaret, how
glad I am that you appreciate my dear, good bad Kezia. It is nineteen
years since I read Adam Bede, but I remember Mrs. Poysen in general.
Kezia is not an imitation of her; the main points of her character were
written out long before Adam Bede appeared; I destroyed the book in
which I trotted her out, but kept _her_, and once in a while tried her
on my husband, but as he did not seem to see it, put her away in her
green box, biding my time. As to Juliet, my good man _loathes_ so to
read about bad people that he almost made me cut out all my last mention
of her. I was in an unholy frame when I did it, and with reason, for
they who like Pemaquid best, say it was a mistake not to dispose of her
in some way. But as to Mrs. Woodford being a model mother, I did not aim
to make her a model anything. All I wanted of her was to bring out the
New England pecularities as they would appear to a worldly stranger. As
to all parties _seeming_ indifferent about Juliet, you may be right;
I was behind the scenes and knew they were not; but as I say, what I
thought the best part of her, George made me cut out. No, I never knew
any one sing exactly like Kezia, but there are such cases on record.
There was "the Singing Cobbler," whose wife complained of him in court,
and he defended himself so wittily in verse, that everybody sided with
him, and his wife forgave his offence, whatever it might be. [22]

[1] The following is the passage referred to: "If you aspire to be a son
of consolation; if you would partake of the priestly gift of sympathy;
if you would pour something beyond commonplace consolation into a
tempted heart; if you would pass through the intercourse of daily life
with the delicate tact that never inflicts pain; if to that most acute
of human ailments--mental doubt, you are ever to give effectual succor,
you must be content to pay the price of the costly education. Like Him,
you must suffer, being tempted."

[2] By the late Rev. William James, D.D.

[3] See appendix G, p.557.

[4] Then pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Church, Fifth avenue and
Forty-eighth street, now of Brooklyn.

[5] "Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural
Holiness, held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874."

[6] "Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural
Holiness, held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874." P. 59.

[7] GRISELDA; A Dramatic Poem in Five Acts. _Translated from the German
of_ FRIEDERICH HALM (Baron Muench-Bellinghausen), _by Mrs. E. Prentiss._

[8] How glad I was to see Griselda's fair face! She is a gem, and I am
sure will prove a blessing as she moves about the world in her nobleness
and purity, so exceedingly womanly and winning. The book is full of
poetry, and held me spell-bound to the close. It is very musical, too,
in its rich, pure English. I don't know how much of its poetic charm
lies in the original or in your rendering, but as it is, it is "just
lovely," as the girls say.--_Letter from Miss Warner._

[9] In a letter written in 1879, just after a visit to Dorset, Dr.
Hamlin thus refers to them:

"Now that I have seen again those lights and shadows of the Green
Mountains, as they lie around your Dorset home, I must tell you why they
awakened such deep emotions. Forty-one years ago I was married to Miss
Henrietta Jackson, the youngest daughter of the venerated and beloved
pastor of Dorset, and we left that lovely valley for our oriental home.
I had heard from her lips a glowing description of the magic work of
light and shade upon those uplands and heights that lie west of the
valley, before I had seen the place. The first morning of my first visit
I recognised the truth and accuracy of her description, and was forced
to confess that, although I had always admired cloud-shadows, I had
never seen them in such rich display and constant recurrence. There were
certain days, which we called field-days, when all their resources were
called out, and they seemed hurrying in swift battalions to some great
contest or grand coronation scene. But at other times they rested in
calm repose as though the pulse of nature had ceased to beat... In our
home upon the Bosphorus we were sometimes reminded of these scenes of
her native valley. When, occasionally, the Black Sea clouds floated down
in broken masses, and floods of light here and there poured through the
darkly shadowed landscape, lighting up fragments of hill and vale to the
very summits of Alem Dagh, her soul took flight to her beloved Dorset
and all other thoughts vanished."

[10] On hearing of Mrs. Prentiss' death, the "poor, homeless fellow"
wrote to her husband a touching letter of sympathy. The following is an
extract from it:

It was, I must acknowledge, a cherished desire of your dear departed
lady that I should walk in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, and, to
obtain that grace, I must invoke God's Power that I may accomplish
that great Result. Dear sir, I would like to suggest to you that I am
disgusted with a wandering life; would like to see Dorset next Summer
and look on the grave of my greatest friend. Nothing could give me
greater Pleasure than to be under the Influence of your Christian
family; now, if I had any Employment, no matter how simple, in that
locality for the winter, then I would feel Happy to go next season to
your country Residence and offer my services free.

[11] Meeta Sophia Schaff died July 14, 1876, in the twenty-first year of
her age. She had just returned from the Centennial. She was a young lady
of unusual loveliness of character, and was deeply lamented by a wide
circle of friends, both young and old.

[12] A printed copy of Lines on her Golden Wedding, written by Mrs.
Prentiss.

[13] The article is entitled _Educated while Educating_, and appeared in
the Brooklyn Journal of Education for March, 1875.

[14] The Rev. C. H. Payson. See the interesting Memoir of him, entitled
"All for Christ," edited by his brother George, and published by the
American Tract Society.

[15] See HENRY BOYNTON SMITH; His Life and Work. Edited by his Wife. A.
C. Armstrong & Son. 1880.

[16] His biographer, Mr. Moore, relates of Lord Byron that in all the
plenitude of his fame, he confessed that "the depreciation of the lowest
of mankind was more painful to him than the applause of the highest was
pleasing."

[17] _Peterchen and Gretchen_. She translated it at Genevrier during the
illness of her children.

[18] Dr. Gurdon Buck. He died shortly afterwards. For more than a
quarter of a century be had been a faithful friend of Mrs. Prentiss, and
as their family physician had made both her and her husband his debtors
alike by his kindness and his skill. With a generosity so characteristic
of his profession, he refused, during all these years, to receive any
compensation for his services. As a surgeon he stood in the front rank;
some of the operations, performed by him, attracted wide attention for
then--novelty and usefulness. He published an account of them, with
illustrations, which greatly interested Mrs. Prentiss. She was almost as
fond of reading about remarkable eases in surgery as about remarkable
criminal trials.

Dr. Buck was one of the founders and first ruling elders of the Church
of the Covenant. His gratuitous labors in connection with the New York
Hospital and other public institutions were very great. He was a man of
solid worth, modest, upright, and devoted to his Lord and Master.

[19] "One of my brightest recollections of this season at Dorset is our
last Sunday before returning to town. We went in the phaeton to Pawlet,
where I preached for the Rev. Mr. Aiken. The morning was pleasant, the
road lay through a lovely mountain valley, and the beauty of nature was
made perfect by the sweet Sabbath stillness; and our thoughts were in
unison with the scene and the day. I preached on Rest in Christ, and the
service was very comforting to us both. How well I recall the same drive
and a similar service early in September of 1876, when prayer was my
theme! What sweet talks and sweeter fellowship we had together by the
way, going and coming!"--_Recollections of_ 1877-8.

[20] Recollections of 1876-7

[21] "Better is it sometimes to go down into the pit with him, who
beholding darkness and bewailing the loss of consolation, crieth from
the bottom of the lowest hell, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken
me? than continually to walk arm in arm with angels, to sit, as it were,
in Abraham's bosom, and to have no thought, no cogitation but this, '_I
thank my God it is not with me as it is with other men._'"--HOOKER.

[22] A list of Mrs. Prentiss' writings, with brief notices of some of
them, will be found at the end of the appendix, p. 568.

CHAPTER XV.

FOREVER WITH THE LORD.

1878.

"But a bound into home immortal, And blessed, blessed years."

I.

Enters upon her last Year on Earth. A Letter about The Home at Greylock.
Her Motive in writing Books. Visit to the Aquarium. About "Worry." Her
Painting. Saturday Afternoons with her. What she was to her Friends.
Resemblance to Madame de Broglie. Recollections of a Visit to East
River. A Picture of her by an old Friend. Goes to Dorset. Second Advent
Doctrine. Last Letters.

Mrs. Prentiss crossed the threshold of her last year on earth with hands
and thoughts still unusually busied. Her weekly Bible-reading, painting
in oils and in water-colors, needle-work, and other household duties,
left her no idle moment. "My fire is so full of irons," she wrote, "that
I do not know which one to take out." Nor was her heart less busy than
her hands and brain. Twice in January, once in February, and again in
April, death invaded the circle of her friends; and when her friends
were in trouble she was always in trouble, too. [1] These deaths led to
earnest talk with her husband on the mystery of earthly existence, and
on the power of faith in Christ to sustain the soul in facing its great
trials. "I am filled with ever fresh wonder at this amazing power," she
said. Such subjects always interested her deeply; never more so than at
this time, when, although she knew it not, her feet were drawing so near
to the pearly gates.

The keynote of her being throughout this last winter was one of unwonted
seriousness. A certain startling intensity of thought and feeling showed
itself every now and then. It was painfully evident that she was under
a severe strain, both physical and mental. Again and again, as spring
advanced, the anxiety of her husband was aroused to the highest pitch by
what seemed to him indications that the unresting, ever-active spirit
was fast wearing away the frail body. At times, too, there was a
light in her eye and in her face an "unearthly, absolutely angelic
expression"--to use her own words about her little Bessie, six and
twenty years before--that filled him with a strange wonder, and which,
after her departure, he often recalled as prophetic of the coming event
and the glory that should follow.

But while to his ear an undertone of unusual seriousness, deepening
ever and anon into a strain of the sweetest tenderness and pathos, ran
through her life during all these early months of 1878, there was little
change in its outward aspect. She was often gay and full as ever of
bright, playful fancies. Never busier, so was she never more eager to
be of service to her friends--and never was she more loving to her
children, or more thoughtful of their happiness. She proposed for their
gratification and advantage to write four new books, one for each
of them, provided only they and their father would furnish her with
subjects. The plan seemed to please her greatly, and, had she been
spared, would probably have been carried into effect--for it was
just the sort of stimulus she needed to set her mind in action. Once
furnished with a subject, her pen, as has been said before, always moved
with the utmost ease and rapidity. But while she wrote very easily, she
did not write without reflection. 'She had a keen sense of character in
all its phases, and her individual portraits, like those of Katy, Mrs.
Grey and Margaret, Aunt Avery and Kezia Millet, were worked out with the
utmost care, the result of years of observation and study being embodied
in them.

And here, in passing, it may not be out of place to dwell for an instant
upon her motives and experience as an author. From first to last she
wrote, not to get gain or to win applause, but to do good; and herein
she had her reward, good measure, pressed down and running over. But of
that kind of reward which gratifies literary taste and ambition, she had
almost none. Her books, even those most admired by the best judges, and
which had the widest circulation, both at home and abroad, attracted but
little attention from the press. The organs of literary intelligence and
criticism scarcely noticed them at all. Nor is it known that any attempt
was ever made to analyse any of her more striking characters, or to
point out the secret of her power and success as a writer. To be sure,
she had never sought or counted upon this sort of recognition; and yet
that she was keenly alive to a word of discriminating praise, will
appear from a letter to Mrs. Condict, dated Jan. 20th:

The burglary was on this wise, as far as we know. One man stood on the
front steps, and another slipped the hasp to one of the parlor windows,
stepped in, took a very valuable French clock, given me on my silver-
wedding day, and all the hats and overcoats from the hall. This was all
they had time to do before our night-watchman came round; they left
the window wide open, and at 4 A.M. Pat rang the bell and informed Mr.
Prentiss that such was the case. We feel it a great mercy that we were
not attacked and maltreated. Poor A. was sitting up in bed, hearing what
was going on, but being alone on the third floor, did not dare to move.

I have just finished a short story called Gentleman Jim, which I am
going to send to Scribner's; very likely it will get overlooked and
lost. I received, not long ago, a letter from Mr. Cady [2] about
Greylock, which he had just read. It was a gratification to both my
husband and myself, as the most discriminating letter I ever received;
and after the first rush of pleasure, the Evil One troubled me, off and
on, for two or three hours, but at last I reminded him that I long ago
chose to cast in my lot with the people of God, and so be off the line
of human notice or applause, and that I was glad I had been enabled to
do it, since literary ambition is unbecoming a Christian woman. There
are 500 other things I should say, if you were here!

The following is a part of the letter referred to: The day after "New
Year's" I was visited with a severe cold and general prostration that
has kept me in my bed--_giving me time!_ As soon as I was strong enough
to read I had "The Home" brought. After reading it I felt I ought to
tell you how deeply I was impressed with the usefulness, excellence, and
spirit of the book. As to its usefulness, you are to be envied; to have
brought light, as I believe you have, to a large number of people upon
the most precious and vital interests of life, is something worth living
and suffering for. The good sense, wisdom, experience, and Christian
faith embodied in it must make it a strong helper and friend to many a
home in trouble and to many perplexed and discouraged hearts, who will
doubtless rise up some day to call you "blessed."

Though you cared less about the manner than the matter, I was impressed
by its literary qualities. The scene at the death of Mrs. Grey and
parting of herself and Margaret is as highly artistic and beautiful
as anything I can think of. The contrast of good and bad, or good and
indifferent, is common enough; but the contrast of what is noble and
what is "saintly" is something infinitely higher and subtler. I can't
imagine anything more exquisitely tender and beautiful than Mrs. Grey's
departure, but it is the more realised by the previous action of
Margaret. The few lines in which this is told bring their whole
character--in each case--vividly before you. But I see that if the book
had previously to this point been differently written it would have been
impossible to have rendered this scene so remarkably impressive. The
story of "Eric" is extremely quaint and charming; it is a vein I am not
familiar with in your writings. It is a little classic. This quaint
child's story and the death of Mrs. Grey affect me as a fine work of art
affects one, whenever I recall them. The trite saying is still true, "A
thing of beauty is a joy forever."

You know children complain of some sweets that they leave a bad
taste--and works of fiction often do with me. I feel tired and
dissatisfied after I have passed out of their excitements; but the
heavenly atmosphere of this book left me better; I know that the Blessed
Spirit must have influenced you in the writing of it, and I doubt not
His blessing will accompany its teachings.

Now will you excuse this blotty letter--written in bed--and accept my
thanks for all the good your book has done me.

The following is her reply:

DEAR MR. CADY:--Your letter afforded me more satisfaction than I know
how to explain. It is true that I made up my mind, as a very young girl,
to keep out of the way of literary people, so as to avoid literary
ambition. Nor have I regretted that decision. Yet the human nature is
not dead in me, and my instincts still crave the kind of recognition
you have given me. I have had heaps of letters from all parts of this
country, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland, about my
books, till I have got sick and tired of them. And the reason I tired of
them was, that in most cases there was no discrimination. People liked
their religious character, and of course I wanted them to do so. But you
appreciate and understand everything in Greylock, and have, therefore,
gratified my husband and myself. Not a soul out of this house, for
instance, has ever so much as alluded to my little Eric, except one
friend who said, "We thought that part of the book forced, and supposed
A. wrote it." Nobody has ever alluded to Margaret, save yourself.
I hoped a sequel to the book might be called for, when I meant to
elaborate her character. Still, it would have been very hard.... I am
not sorry that I chose the path in life I did choose. A woman should not
live for, or even desire, fame. This is yet more true of a Christian
woman. If I had not steadily suppressed all such ambition, I might have
become a sour, disappointed woman, seeing my best work unrecognised. But
it has been my wish to

"Dare to be little and unknown,
Seen and loved by God alone."

Your letter for a few hours, did stir up what I had always trampled
down; but only for that brief period, and then I said to myself, God has
only taken me at my word; I have asked Him, a thousand times, to make me
smaller and smaller, and crowd the self out of me by taking up all the
room Himself. There is so much of that work yet to be done, that I
wonder He ventures to make so many lines fall to me in pleasant places,
and that I have such a goodly heritage. I trust He will bless you for
your labor of love to me.

I do not like the idea of your buying my books. Greylock being for
mothers, I never dreamed of men reading it. Have you had The Story
Lizzie Told, Six Little Princesses, The Little Preacher, and Nidworth?
Neither of these is really a child's book, and the next time you are
sick, if you have not read them, I shall love to send them to you. If
this is conceit, I have the effrontery not to be a mite ashamed of it!

The following notes to Mrs. Fisher show how pleasantly she sympathised
with her teacher as a young mother, while taking lessons of and admiring
her as an artist:

NEW YORK, _February 4, 1878._

What a relief to have the days come long again! On Saturday I found in
A.'s portfolio a study you lent her; exquisite ferns behind the fallen
trunk of a tree, and a tiny group of orange-colored toad-stools. I will
send it with its two lovely sisters, when I get through with them. I
wish you could get time to come to see me, or that I could get time to
go to see you. But it is my unlucky nature to have a great many irons in
the fire at once. I am glad your baby keeps well, and hope he will grow
up to be a great comfort to you.

_Feb. 23d._--I have just received your letter. I have my hands full and
there is no need to hurry you.

As to "worry" not being of faith, I do not suppose it is. But a young
mother can not be _all_ faith. I do not envy people who love so lightly
that they have no wringing out of the heart when they lose their dear
ones; nor can I understand her who says she can sit and read the
newspaper, while her babies are crying. "None are so old as they who
have outlived enthusiasm"; and who should be enthusiastic if a mother
may not? I don't think God has laid it up against me that I nearly
killed myself for the sake of my babies, because when He took two away
within three months of each other, my faith in Him did not falter....
Dear Mrs. Fisher, if you love God nothing but His best things will ever
come to you. This is the experience of a very young, old woman, and I
hope it will comfort you.

_April 21st._--Such a fight as I have had with your exquisite studies,
and how I have been beaten! I failed entirely in the golden-rod, and do
not get the brilliant yellow of the mullein flower; one could not easily
fail on the saggitarius, and the clover was tolerable. I think I will
take no more lessons at present, as I have much to do in getting another
boy fitted for college. After I get settled at Dorset I want to make a
desperate effort to paint from nature, and if I have any success, send
to you for criticism. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread," and I
am afraid you will be disgusted with my work, which will be in the dark,
since I have had no instruction in copying nature.... Perhaps you may
put alongside of the rejection of your picture a lady's telling me about
one of my books into which I had thrown an experience of the last thirty
years of my life, "There was nothing in it." "Il faut souffrir pour etre
belle." As long as memory lasts I shall rejoice that I have seen and
studied your work.

I remember what a splendid fellow your baby was a year ago. It will
depend on your maternal prayers and discipline whether he grows up to be
your comfort.

A few extracts from her letters will give further glimpses of the manner
in which she passed these closing months of her life in New York--
especially of her delight in the weekly Bible-reading. One of the ladies
who attended it, thus refers to that exercise:

You remember that for one or two years she was a member of a small
circle, that met weekly for Bible-study. When the leader of this circle
removed from the city, Mrs. Prentiss was urgently requested to become
its teacher, and she consented to do so. For the last four years of
her life she threw her whole soul into this exercise. Every week the

Book of the day: