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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17th.—Dr. Hopkins preached a splendid sermon [6] for us this morning, and came in after it for a call. He asked me last night if I felt conceited about my book; so I said to him, "I like to give people as good as they send—don't you feel a little conceited after that sermon?" on which he gave me a good shaking.

18th.—I have been writing notes of thanksgiving, each of which dear papa reads through rose-colored spectacles and says, "You do beat all!" I have enjoyed writing them, instead of finding it a bore. We shall be curious to hear how you celebrated our wedding-day. Well, good-bye, old child. I shall begin another letter to-day, as like as not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 23d.—If your eyes were bright enough you might have seen me and my cousin George P—— tearing down Broadway this afternoon, as if mad dogs were after us. He wanted me to have a fountain pen, and the only way to accomplish it was to take me down to the place where they are sold, below the Astor House. I wanted to walk, and so did he, but he had got to be on a boat for Norwich at five P.M. and pack up between while; however, he concluded to risk it, hence the way we raced was a caution. I have just written him a long letter in rhyme with my new pen, and now begin one in prose to you. I have just got a letter from an anonymous admirer of Stepping Heavenward, enclosing ten dollars to give away; I wish it was a thousand! The children are in tribulation about their kitten, who committed suicide by knocking the ironing-board on to herself. H. made a diagram of the position of the board that I might fully comprehend the situation, and then showed me how the corpse lay. They were not willing to part with the remains, and buried them in the yard.

Saturday.—I went to Yonkers with M. and H. to spend the day with Mrs. B. Her children are sweet and interesting as ever; but little Maggie, now three years old, is the "queen of the house." She is a perfect specimen of what a child should be—gladsome, well, bright, and engaging. Her cheeks are rosy and shining, and she keeps up an incessant chatter. They are all wild about her, from papa and mamma down to the youngest child.

* * * * *

II.

Home-Life in Dorset.

DORSET, June 10, 1870.

Here we are again in dear old Dorset. We got here about ten on Wednesday evening, expecting to find the house dark and forlorn, but Mrs. F. had been down and lighted it up, and put on the dining-table bread, biscuits, butter, cakes, eggs, etc., enough to last for days. Thursday was hotter than any day we had had in New York, and not very good, therefore, for the hard work of unpacking, and the yet harder work of sowing our flower-seeds in a huge bed shaped like a palm-leaf. But, with M.'s help, it was done before one o'clock to-day—a herculean task, as the ground had to be thoroughly dug up with a trowel; stones, sticks, and roots got out, and the earth sifted in our hands. The back of my neck and my ears are nearly blistered. M. is standing behind me now anointing me with cocoa butter. Our place looks beautifully. Some of the trees set out are twelve or fifteen feet high, and when fully leaved will make quite a show. Papa is to be here about ten days, as he greatly needs the rest; he will then go home till July 1st, when he will bring Jane and Martha. I told Martha I thought it very good of Maria to be willing to come with me, and she said she did not think it needed much goodness, and that anybody would go with me anywhere. The boys have a little black and tan dog which Culyer gave them, and M.'s bird is a fine singer. Our family circle now consists of

Pa Prentiss, Ma " Min." Geo. " Hen. " Maria " (horse) Coco " (cow) Sukey " (dog) Nep " (bird) Cherry "

We never saw Dorset so early, and when the foliage was in such perfection.

Last Tuesday I reached our door perfectly and disgracefully loaded with parcels, and said to myself, "I wonder what Mr. M. would say if he saw me with this load?" when instantly he opened the door to let me in! Account for this if you can. Why should I have thought of him among all the people I know? Did his mind touch mine through the closed door? It makes me almost shudder to think such things can be. Well, I must love and leave you. I am going to have a small basket on the table in the hall with ferns, mosses, and shells in it. They all send love from Pa Prentiss down to Sukey. What a pity you could not come home for the summer and go back again! I believe I'll go to your bedroom door and say, "I wonder whether Annie would shriek out if she saw me in this old sacque, instead of her pretty one?" and perhaps you'll open and let me in. Will you or won't you? Now I'm going to ride.

I've been and I've got back, and I'm frozen solid, and am glad I've got back to my den. G. and H. are now in the kitchen making biscuits. Good-bye, chicken. Mamma PRENTISS.

June 12th.—Everybody is in bed save Darby and Joan. We slept last night under four blankets and a silk comforter, which will give you a faint idea of the weather. It has been beautiful to-day, and we have sat out of doors a good deal. Papa and the boys went out to our hill after tea last evening and picked two quarts of strawberries, so as to have a short-cake to-day. M. took me yesterday to see a nest in the orchard which was full of birds parted into fours—not a crack between, and one of them so crowded that it filled about no space at all. The hymn says, "Birds in their little nests agree," and I should think they would, for they have no room to disagree in. They all four stared at us with awful, almost embarrassing solemnity, and each had a little yellow moustache. I had no idea they lived packed in so—no wonder they looked melancholy. The sight of them, especially of the one who had no room at all, made me quite low-spirited.

Wednesday.—Your letter reached us on Monday, and we all went out and sat in a row on the upper step, like birds on a telegraph wire, and papa read it aloud. I am lying by to-day—writing, reading, lounging, and enjoying the scenery. You ought to see papa eat strawberries!!! They are very plentiful on our hill. The grass on the lawn is pricking up like needles; easy to see if you kneel down and stare hard, but absolutely invisible otherwise; yet papa keeps calling me to look out of the window and admire it, and shouts to people driving by to do the same. He has just come in, and I told him what I was saying about him, on which he gave me a good beating, doubled up his fist at me, and then kissed me to make up.... Don't sew Isn't it enough that I have nearly killed myself with doing it? We have just heard of the death of Dickens and the sensation it is making in England.

Thursday.—This bird of ours is splendid. I have just framed the two best likenesses of you and hung them up in front of my table. You would laugh at papa's ways about coffee. He complains that he drank too much at Philadelphia, and says that with strawberries we don't need it, and that I may tell Maria so. I tell her, and lo! the next morning there it is. I ask the meaning, and she says he came down saying I did not feel very well and needed it! The next day it appears again. Why? He had been down and ordered it because it was good. The next day he orders it because it is his last day here but one, and to-morrow it will be on the table because it is the last! Dreadful man! and yet I hate to have him go.

Friday.—I drove papa to Manchester, and as usual, this exploit brought on a thunder shower, with a much needed deluge of rain. I had a hard time getting home, and got wet to the skin. I had not only to drive, but keep a roll of matting from slipping out, hold up the boot and the umbrella, and keep stopping to get my hat out of my eyes, which kept knocking over them. Then Coco goes like the wind this summer. Fortunately I had my waterproof with me and got home safely. The worst of it is that, in my bewilderment, I refused to let a woman get in who was walking to South Dorset. I shall die of remorse.. Well, well, how it is raining, to be sure.

Monday.—I hear that papa sent a dispatch to somebody to know how I got here from Manchester. I do not wonder he is worried. I am such a poor driver, and it rained so dreadfully. M. follows me round like a little dog; if I go down cellar she goes down; if I pick a strawberry she picks one; if I stop picking she stops. She is the sweetest lamb that ever was, and I am the Mary that's got her. I don't believe anybody else in the world loves me so well, unless it possibly is papa, and he doesn't follow me down cellar, and goes off and picks strawberries all by himself, and that on Sunday, too, when I had forbidden berrypicking! We are rioting in strawberries, just as we did last summer. We live a good deal at sixes and sevens, but nobody cares. This afternoon I have been arranging a basket for the hall table, with mosses, ferns, shells and white coral; ever so pretty.

Wednesday.—It is a splendid day and I expect papa. The children have not said a word about their food, though partly owing to no butcher and partly to the heat, I have had for two days next to nothing; picked fish one day and fish picked the next. We regarded to-day's dinner as a most sumptuous one, and I am sure Victoria's won't taste so good to her. Letters keep pouring in, urging papa to accept the Professorship at Chicago, and declaring the vote of the Assembly to be the voice of God. Of course, if he must accept, we should have to give up our dear little home here. But to me his leaving the ministry would be the worst thing about it. After dinner the boys carried me off bodily to see strawberries and other plants; then they made me go to the mill, and by that time I had no hair-pins on my head, to say nothing of hair. The boys are working away like all possessed. A little bird, probably one of those hatched here, has just come and perched himself on the piazza, railing in front of me, and is making me an address which, unfortunately, I do not understand.... You have inherited from me a want of reverence for relics and the like. I wouldn't go as far as our barn to see the fig-leaves Adam and Eve wore, or all the hair of all the apostles; and when people are not born hero-worshippers, they can't even worship themselves as heroes. Fancy Dr. Schaff sending me back the MS. of a hymn I gave him, from a London printing-office! What could I do with it? cover jelly with it? He sent me a beautiful copy of his book, "Christ in Song."

Thursday, June 30th.—Papa, with J. and M., came late last night, and we all made as great a time as if the Great Mogul had come. They give a most terrific account of the heat in the city. You ask how Stepping Heavenward is selling. So far 14,000. Nidworth has been a complete failure, though the publishers write me that it is a "gem." [10]

Monday, July 4th.—M. is so absorbed in the study of Vick's floral catalogue that she speaks of seeing such a thing in the Bible or Dictionary, when she means that she saw it in Vick. I did the same thing last night. She and I get down on our knees and look solemnly at the bare ground and point out up-springing weeds as better than nothing. I had a long call this morning from Mrs. F. Field, of East Dorset. They had a dear little bright-eyed baby baptized yesterday, which sat through all the morning service and behaved even better than I did, for it had no wandering thoughts. Mrs. F. said some friends of hers in Brooklyn received letters from France and from Japan simultaneously, urging them to read Stepping Heavenward, which was the first they heard of it. We have celebrated the glorious Fourth by making and eating ice-cream. Papa brought a new-fashioned freezer, that professed to freeze in two minutes. We screwed it to the wood-house floor—or rather H. did—put in the cream, and the whole family stood and watched papa while he turned the handle. At the end of two minutes we unscrewed the cover and gazed inside, but there were no signs of freezing, and to make a long story short, instead of writing a book as I said I should, there we all were from half-past twelve to nearly two o'clock, when we decided to have dinner and leave the servants to finish it. It came on to the table at last, was very rich and rather good. The boys spent the afternoon in the woods firing off crackers. M. went visiting and papa took me to drive, it being a delightful afternoon. The boys have a few Roman candles which they are going to send off as soon as it gets dark enough.

July 13th.—This is a real Dorset day, after a most refreshing rain, and M. and I have kept out of doors the whole morning, gardening and in the woods. Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey came down and spent last evening. She is bright and wide awake, and admired everything from the scenery out of doors to the matting and chintzes within. I told her there was nothing in the house to be compared with those who lived in it. Here comes a woman with four quarts of black raspberries and a fuss to make change. Papa and the boys are getting in the last hay with Albert. M. has just brought in your letter. We are glad you have seen those remarkable scenes [at Ober-Ammergau].One would fancy it would become an old story. I should not like to see the crucifixion; it must be enough to turn one's hair white in a single night.

Saturday.—Yesterday I went with the children to walk round Rupert. We turned off the road to please the boys, to a brook with a sandy beach, where all three fell to digging wells, and I fell to collecting wild grape-vine and roots for my rustic work, and fell into the brook besides. We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we wished we had our dinners and could stay all day. On the way home, just as we got near Col. Sykes', we spied papa with the phaeton, and all got in. We must have cut a pretty figure, driving through the village; M. in my lap, G. in papa's, and H. everywhere in general.

July 14th.—Miss Vance was in last evening after tea, and says our lawn is getting on extremely well and that our seeds are coming up beautifully. This greatly soothed M.'s and my own uneasy heart, as we had rather supposed the lawn ought to be a thick velvet, and the seeds we sowed two weeks ago up and blooming. If vegetable corresponded to animal life, this would be the case. Fancy that what were eggs long after we came here, and then naked birds, are now full-fledged creatures on the wing, all off getting to housekeeping, each on his own hook!

July 18th.—M. and I went on a tramp this forenoon and while we were gone Mrs. M. O. R. and Mary and Mrs. Van W. called. They brought news of the coming war. Papa showed them all over the house, not excepting your room, which I think a perfect shame—for the room looks forlorn. I think men ought to be suppressed, or something done to them. Maria told me she thought papa's sermon Sunday was "ilegant." 21st.—I feel greatly troubled lest this dreadful war should cut us off from each other. Mr. Butler writes that he does not see how people are to get home, and we do not see either. Papa says it will probably be impossible to have the Evangelical Alliance. And how prices of finery will go up!

July 27th.—M.'s and my own perseverance at our flower-bed is beginning, at last, to be rewarded. We have portulaccas, mignonette, white candy-tuft, nasturtiums, eutocas, etc.; and the morning-glories, which are all behindhand, are just beginning to bloom. Never were flowers so fought for. It is the lion and the unicorn over again. I have nearly finished "Soll und Haben," and feel more like talking German than English. The Riverside Magazine has just come and completed my downfall, as it has a syllable left out of one of my verses, as has been the case with a hymn in the hymn-book at Cincinnati and one in the Association Monthly. I am now fairly entitled to the reputation of being a jolty rhymster. It has been a trifle cooler to-day and we are all refreshed by the change.

Friday.—Papa read me last evening a nice thing about Stepping Heavenward from Dr. Robinson in Paris and a lady in Zurich, and I went to bed and slept the sleep of the just—till daylight, when five hundred flies began to flap into my ears, up my nose, take nips off my face and hands, and drove me distracted. They woke papa, too, but he goes to sleep between the pecks.

August 4th.—Tuesday I went on a tramp with M. and brought home a gigantic bracket. We met papa as we neared the house, and he had had his first bath in his new tank at the mill, and was wild with joy, as were also the boys. After dinner I made a picture frame of mosses, lichens, and red and yellow toadstools, ever so pretty; then proofs came, then we had tea, and then went and made calls. Yesterday on a tramp with M., who wanted mosses, then home with about a bushel of ground-pine. Every minute of the afternoon I spent in trimming the grey room with the pine and getting up my bracket, and now the room looks like a bower of bliss. I was to go with M. on another tramp to-day, but it rains, and rain is greatly needed. The heat in New York is said to exceed anything in the memory of man, something absolutely appalling.

Friday.—Here I am on the piazza with Miss K. by my side, reading the Life of Faber. She got here last night in a beautiful moonlight, and as I had not told her about the scenery, she was so enchanted with it on opening her blinds this morning, that she burst into tears. I drove her round Rupert and took her into Cheney's woods, and the boys invited us down to their workshop; so we went, and I was astonished to find that the bath-house is really a perfect affair, with two dressing-rooms and everything as neat as a pink. Miss K. is charmed with everything, the cornucopias, natural brackets, crosses, etc., and her delusion as to all of us, whom she fancies saints and angels, is quite charming, only it won't last.

13th.—There is a good deal of sickness about the village. I made wine-jelly for four different people yesterday, and the rest of the morning Miss K., Mrs. Humphrey, and myself sat on a shawl in our woods, talking. We have had a tremendous rain, to our great delight, and the air is cooler, but the grasshoppers, which are like the frogs of Egypt, are not diminished, and are devouring everything. I got a letter from cousin Mary yesterday, who says she has no doubt we shall get the ocean up here, somehow, and raise our own oysters and clams.

16th.—Papa and I went to Manchester to-day to make up a lot of calls, and among other persons, we saw Mrs. C. of Troy, a bright-eyed old lady who was a schoolmate of my mother's. She could not tell me anything about her except that she was very bright and animated, and that I knew before. Mrs. Wickham asked me to write some letters for a fair to be held for their church to-morrow; so I wrote three in rhyme, not very good.

August 20th.—After dinner papa went to Manchester, taking both boys, and I went off with M. to Cheney's woods, where we got baskets full of moss, etc., and had a good time. The children are all wild on the subject of flowers and spend the evening studying the catalogues, which they ought to know by heart. I wonder if I have told you how our dog hates to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy? The moment the church-bell begins to ring, no matter where he is, or how soundly asleep, he runs out and gazes in the direction of the church, and as the last stroke strikes, lifts his nose high in the air and sets up the most awful wails, howls, groans, despairing remonstrances you can imagine. No games with the boys to-day—no romps, no going to Manchester, everybody telling me to get off their Sunday clothes—aow! aow! aow!

Dr. Adams' house has been broken into and robbed, and so has Dr. Field's. Mrs. H. gave us the history of a conflict in Chicago between her husband and a desperate burglar armed with a dirk, who wanted, but did not get a large sum of money under his pillow; also, of his being garroted and robbed, and having next day sent him a purse of $150, two pistols, a slug, a loaded cane, and a watchman's rattle. Imagine him as going about loaded with all these things! I never knew people who had met with such bewitching adventures, and she has the brightest way of telling them.

Papa has got a telegram from Dr. Schaff asking him to come on to his little Johnny's funeral. This death must have been very sudden, as Dr. Schaff wrote last Tuesday that his wife was sick, but said nothing of Johnny. He is the youngest boy, about nine years old, I think, and you will remember they lost Philip, a beautiful child, born the same day as our G., the summer we were at Hunter. When the despatch came papa and M. thought it was bad news about you, and I only thought of Mr. Stearns! There is no accounting for the way in which the human mind works. And now for bed, you sleepy head.

Monday.—A splendid day, and we have all been as busy as bees, if not as useful,—H. making a whip to chastise the cow with, M., Nep and myself collecting mosses and toadstools; of the latter I brought home 185! We were out till dinner-time, and after dinner I changed the mosses in my baskets and jardinet, no small job, and M. spread out her treasures. She has at last found her enthusiasm, and I am so glad not only to have found a mate in my tramps, but to see such a source of pleasure opening before her as woods, fields and gardens have always been to me. We lighted this morning on what I supposed to be a horned-headed, ferocious snake, and therefore took great pleasure in killing. It turned out to be a common striped snake that had got a frog partly swallowed, and its legs sticking out so that I took them to be horns. Nep relieved his mind by barking at it. I announced at dinner that I was going to send for Vick's catalogue of bulbs, which news was received with acclamation. The fact is, we all seem to be born farmers or florists; and unless you bring us home something in the agricultural line, I don't know that you can bring us anything we would condescend to look at. It is awful to read of the carnage going on in Europe.

Aug. 27th.—Papa got home Tuesday night. Johnny Schaff's death was from a fall; he left the house full of life and health, and in a few minutes was brought in insensible, and only lived half an hour.... I take no pleasure in writing you, because we feel that you are not likely to get my letters. Still, I can not make up my mind to stop writing. Never was a busier set of people than we. In the evening I read to the children from the German books you sent them; am now on Thelka Von Grumpert's, which is a really nice book. I tell papa we are making an idol out of this place, but he says we are not.

Tuesday.—We all set out to climb the mountain near Deacon Kellogg's. We snatched what we could for our dinner, and when we were ready to eat it, it proved to be eggs, bread and meat, cake, guava jelly, cider and water. We enjoyed the splendid view and the dinner, and then papa and the boys went home, and M., Nep and myself proceeded to climb higher, Nep so affectionate that he tired me out hugging me with his "arms," as H. calls them, and nearly eating me up, while M. was shaking with laughter at his silly ways. We were gone from 10 A.M. to nearly 6 P.M., and brought home in baskets, bags, pockets and bosom, about thirty natural brackets, some very large and fearfully heavy. One was so heavy that I brought it home by kicking it down the mountain. I have just got some flower seeds for fall planting, and the children are looking them over as some would gems from the mine.

Thursday, September 1st.—Your letter has come, and we judge that you have quite given up Paris; what a pity to have to do it! We spent yesterday at Hager brook with Mrs. Humphrey and her daughters; papa drove us over in the straw wagon and came for us about 6 P.M. We had lobster salad and marmalade, bread and butter and cake, and we roasted potatoes and corn, and the H.'s had a pie and things of that sort. When they saw the salad they set up such shouts of joy that papa came to see what was the matter. We had a nice time. Today I have had proofs to correct and letters to write, and berries to dry, but not a minute to sit down and think, everybody needing me at once. All are busy as bees and send lots of love. Give ever so much to the Smiths.

September 8th.—Here we are all sitting round the parlor table. The last three days have each brought a letter from you, and to-day one came from Mrs. S. to me, and one from Prof. S. to papa. I have no doubt that the decision for you to return is a wise one and hope you will fall in with it cheerfully. Dr. Schaff is here, and yesterday papa took him to Hager brook, and to-day to the quarries; splendid weather for both excursions, and Dr. S. seems to have enjoyed them extremely. Last evening he read to us some private letters of Bismarck, which were very interesting and did him great credit in every way. I had a long call from M. H. to-day; she looked as sweet as possible and I loaded her with flowers. Papa is writing Mr. B. to thank him for a basket of splendid peaches he sent us to-day. H. has just presented me with three pockets full of toadstools. M. walked with me round Rupert square this afternoon, and we met a crazy woman who said she wondered I did not go into fits, and asked me why I didn't. In return I asked her where she lived, to which she replied, "In the world." We are all on the qui vive about the war news, especially Louis Napoleon's downfall, and you may depend we are glad he has used himself up. You can not bring anything to the children that will please them as seeds would. It delights me to see them so interested in garden work. Perhaps this will be my last letter.

Your loving Mammie.

* * * * *

III.

Further Glimpses of her Dorset Life.

The following Recollections of Mrs. Prentiss by her friend, Mrs. Frederick Field, now of San Jose, California, afford additional glimpses of her home life in Dorset. The picture is drawn in fair colors; but it is as truthful as it is fair:

It was the first Sunday in September, 1866. A quiet, perfect day among the green hills of Vermont; a sacramental Sabbath, and we had come seven miles over the mountain to go up to the house of the Lord. I had brought my little two-months-old baby in my arms, intending to leave her during the service at our brother's home, which was near the church. I knew that Mrs. Prentiss was a "summer-boarder" in this home, that she was the wife of a distinguished clergyman, and a literary woman of decided ability; but it was before the "Stepping Heavenward" epoch of her life, and I had no very deep interest in the prospect of meeting her. We went in at the hospitably open door, and meeting no one, sat down in the pleasant family living-room. It was about noon, and we could hear cheerful voices talking over the lunch-table in the dining-room. Presently the door opened, and a slight, delicate-featured woman, with beautiful large dark eyes, came with rapid step into the room, going across to the hall door; but her quick eye caught a glimpse of my little "bundle of flannel," and not pausing for an introduction or word of preparatory speech, she came towards me with a beaming face and outstretched hands:—

"O, have you a baby there? How delightful! I haven't seen one for such an age,—please, may I take it? the darling tiny creature!—a girl? How lovely!"

She took the baby tenderly in her arms and went on in her eager, quick, informal way, but with a bright little blush and smile,—"I'm not very polite—pray, let me introduce myself! I'm Mrs. Prentiss, and you are Mrs. F—-, I know."

After a little more sweet, motherly comment and question over the baby,—"a touch of nature" which at once made us "akin," she asked, "Have you brought the baby to be christened?"

I said, No, I thought it would be better to wait till she was a little older.

"O, no!" she pleaded, "do let us take her over to the church now. The younger the better, I think; it is so uncertain about our keeping such treasures."

I still objected that I had not dressed the little one for so public an occasion.

"O, never mind about that," she said. "She is really lovelier in this simple fashion than to be loaded with lace and embroidery." Then, her sweet face growing more earnest,—"There will be more of us here to-day than at the next communion—more of us to pray for her."

The little lamb was taken into the fold that day, and I was Mrs. Prentiss' warm friend forevermore. Her whole beautiful character had revealed itself to me in that little interview,—the quick perception, the wholly frank, unconventional manner, the sweet motherliness, the cordial interest in even a stranger, the fervent piety which could not bear delay in duty, and even the quaint, original, forcible thought and way of expressing it, "There'll be more of us here to pray for her to-day."

For seven successive summers I saw more or less of her in this "Earthly Paradise," as she used to call it, and once I visited her in her city home. I have been favored with many of her sparkling, vivacious letters, and have read and re-read all her published writings; but that first meeting held in it for me the key-note of all her wonderfully beautiful and symmetrical character.

She brought to that little hamlet among the hills a sweet and wholesome and powerful influence. While her time was too valuable to be wasted in a general sociability, she yet found leisure for an extensive acquaintance, for a kindly interest in all her neighbors, and for Christian work of many kinds. Probably the weekly meeting for Bible-reading and prayer, which she conducted, was her closest link with the women of Dorset; but these meetings were established after I had bidden good-bye to the dear old town, and I leave others to tell how their "hearts burned within them as she opened to them the Scriptures."

She had in a remarkable degree the lovely feminine gift of home-making. She was a true decorative artist. Her room when she was boarding, and her home after it was completed, were bowers of beauty. Every walk over hill and dale, every ramble by brookside or through wildwood, gave to her some fresh home-adornment. Some shy wildflower or fern, or brilliant-tinted leaf, a bit of moss, a curious lichen, a deserted bird's-nest, a strange fragment of rock, a shining pebble, would catch her passing glance and reveal to her quick artistic sense possibilities of use which were quaint, original, characteristic. One saw from afar that hers was a poet's home; and, if permitted to enter its gracious portals, the first impression deepened into certainty. There was as strong an individuality about her home, and especially about her own little study, as there was about herself and her writings. A cheerful, sunny, hospitable Christian home! Far and wide its potent influences reached, and it was a beautiful thing to see how many another home, humble or stately, grew emulous and blossomed into a new loveliness.

Mrs. Prentiss was naturally a shy and reserved woman, and necessarily a pre-occupied one. Therefore she was sometimes misunderstood. But those who—knew her best, and were blest with her rare intimacy, knew her as "a perfect woman nobly planned." Her conversation was charming. Her close study of nature taught her a thousand happy symbols and illustrations, which made both what she said and wrote a mosaic of exquisite comparisons. Her studies of character were equally constant and penetrating. Nothing escaped her; no peculiarity of mind or manner failed of her quick observation, but it was always a kindly interest. She did not ridicule that which was simply ignorance or weakness, and she saw with keen pleasure all that was quaint, original, or strong, even when it was hidden beneath the homeliest garb. She had the true artist's liking for that which was simple and genre. The common things of common life appealed to her sympathies and called out all her attention. It was a real, hearty interest, too—not feigned, even in a sense generally thought praiseworthy. Indeed, no one ever had a more intense scorn of every sort of feigning. She was honest, truthful, genuine to the highest degree. It may have sometimes led her into seeming lack of courtesy, but even this was a failing which "leaned to virtue's side." I chanced to know of her once calling with a friend on a country neighbor, and finding the good housewife busy over a rag-carpet. Mrs. Prentiss, who had never chanced to see one of these bits of rural manufacture in its elementary processes, was full of questions and interest, thereby quite evidently pleasing the unassuming artist in assorted rags and home-made dyes. When the visitors were safely outside the door, Mrs. Prentiss' friend turned to her with the exclamation, "What tact you have! She really thought you were interested in her work!" The quick blood sprang into Mrs. Prentiss' face, and she turned upon her friend a look of amazement and rebuke. "Tact!" she said, "I despise such tact!—do you think I would look or act a lie?"

She was an exceedingly practical woman, not a dreamer. A systematic, thorough housekeeper, with as exalted ideals in all the affairs which pertain to good housewifery as in those matters which are generally thought to transcend these humble occupations. Like Solomon's virtuous woman she "looked well after the ways of her household." Methodical, careful of minutes, simple in her tastes, abstemious, and therefore enjoying evenly good health in spite of her delicate constitution—this is the secret of her accomplishing so much. Yet all this foundation of exactness and diligence was so "rounded with leafy gracefulness" that she never seemed angular or unyielding.

With her children she was a model disciplinarian, exceedingly strict, a wise law-maker; yet withal a tender, devoted, self-sacrificing mother. I have never seen such exact obedience required and given—or a more idolized mother. "Mamma's" word was indeed Law, but—O, happy combination!—it was also Gospel!

How warm and true her friendship was! How little of selfishness in all her intercourse with other women! How well she loved to be of service to her friends! How anxious that each should reach her highest possibilities of attainment! I record with deepest sense of obligation the cordial, generous, sympathetic assistance of many kinds extended by her to me during our whole acquaintance. To every earnest worker in any field she gladly "lent a hand," rejoicing in all the successes of others as if they were her own.

But if weakness, or trouble, or sorrow of any sort or degree overtook one she straightway became as one of God's own ministering spirits—an angel of strength and consolation. Always more eager, however, that souls should grow than that pain should cease. Volumes could be made of her letters to friends in sorrow. One tender monotone steals through them all,—

'Come unto me, my kindred, I enfold you In an embrace to sufferers only known; Close to this heart I tenderly will hold you, Suppress no sigh, keep back no tear, no moan.

"Thou Man of Sorrows, teach my lips that often Have told the sacred story of my woe, To speak of Thee till stony griefs I soften, Till hearts that know Thee not learn Thee to know.

"Till peace takes place of storm and agitation, Till lying on the current of Thy will There shall be glorying in tribulation, And Christ Himself each empty heart shall fill."

Few have the gift or the courage to deal faithfully yet lovingly with an erring soul, but she did not shrink back even from this service to those she loved. I can bear witness to the wisdom, penetration, skill, and fidelity with which she probed a terribly wounded spirit, and then said with tender solemnity, "I think you need a great deal of good praying."

O, "vanished hand," still beckon to us from the Eternal Heights! O, "voice that is still," speak to us yet from the Shining Shore!

"Still let thy mild rebuking stand Between us and the wrong, And thy dear memory serve to make Our faith in goodness strong."

[1] See the poem in the appendix to Golden Hours, with the "Reply of the New Year," written by Mrs. Prentiss.

[2] A clerical circle of New York.

[3] A Unitarian paper, published in New York.

[4] An association of ladies for providing garments and other needed articles in aid of families of Home and Foreign missionaries, especially of those connected in any way with their own congregation. Such a circle is found in most of the American churches.

[5] The passage occurs in a letter to Madame Guyon, dated June 9, 1689. For another extract from the same letter see appendix F, p. 557.

[6] On the Resurrection of Christ.

[7] Helen Rogers Blakeman, wife of W. N. Blakeman, M.D., was born on the 20th of December, 1811, in the city of New York. She was a granddaughter of the Rev. James Caldwell, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the Revolutionary patriot. The tragical fate of her grandmother has passed into history. When the British forces reached Connecticut Farms, on the 7th of June, 1780, and began to burn and pillage the place, Mrs. Caldwell, who was then living there, retired with her two children—one an infant in her arms—to a back room in the house. Here, while engaged in prayer, she was shot through the window. Two bullets struck her in the breast and she fell dead upon the floor. The infant in her arms was Mrs. Blakeman's mother. On the father's side, too, she was of an old and God-fearing family.

[8] "Your precious lamb was very near my heart; few knew so well as I did all you suffered for and with her, for few have been over just the ground I have. But that is little to the purpose; what I was going to say is this,—'God never makes a mistake.' You know and feel it, I am sure, but when we are broken down with grief, we like to hear simple words, oft repeated. On this anniversary of my child's death, I feel drawn to you. It was a great blow to us because it came to hearts already sore with sorrow for our boy, and because it came so like a thunderclap, and because she suffered so. Your baby's death brought it all back."—From the Letter to Mrs. W.

[9] "I must tell you what a busy day I had yesterday, being chaplain, marketer, mother, author, and consoler from early morning till nine at night.... A letter came from Cincinnati from the editor of the hymn-book of the Y.M.C.A., saying he had some of my hymns in it, and had stopped the press in order to have two more, which he wanted 'right away.' I was exactly in the mood; it was our little Bessie's anniversary, she had been in heaven eighteen years; think what she has already gained by my one year of suffering! and I wanted to spend it for others, not for myself."—Letter to her Husband, May 20.

[10] Nidworth, and His Three Magic Wands, published by Roberts Brothers.



CHAPTER XII.

THE TRIAL OF FAITH.

1871-1872.

I.

Two Years of Suffering. Its Nature and Causes. Spiritual Conflicts. Ill-health. Faith a Gift to be won by Prayer. Death-bed of Dr. Skinner. Visit to Philadelphia. "Daily Food." How to read the Bible so as to love it more. Letters of Sympathy and Counsel. "Prayer for Holiness brings Suffering." Perils of human Friendship.

If in the life of Mrs. Prentiss the year 1870 was marked with a white stone as one of great happiness, the two following years were marked by unusual and very acute suffering. Perhaps something of this was, sooner or later, to have been looked for in the experience of one whose organization, both physical and mental, was so intensely sensitive. Tragical elements are latent in every human life, especially in the life of woman. And the finer qualities of her nature, her vast capacity of loving and of self-sacrifice, her peculiar cares and trials, as well as outward events, are always tending to bring these elements into action. What scenes surpassing fable, scenes both bright and sad, belong to the secret history of many a quiet woman's heart! Then our modern civilization, while placing woman higher in some respects than she ever stood before, at the same time makes her pay a heavy price for her advantages. In the very process of enlarging her sphere and opportunities, whether intellectual or practical, and of educating her for their duties, does it not also expose her to moral shocks and troubles and lacerations of feeling almost peculiar to our times? Nor is religion wholly exempt from the spirit that rules the age or the hour. There is a close, though often very subtle, connexion between the two; just as there is between the working of nature and grace in the individual soul.

The phase of her history upon which Mrs. Prentiss was now entering can not be fully understood without considering it in this light. The melancholy that was deep-rooted in her temperament, and her tender, all-absorbing sympathies, made her very quick to feel whatever of pain or sorrow pervaded the social atmosphere about her. The thought of what others were suffering would intrude even upon her rural retreat among the mountains, and render her jealous of her own rest and joy. And then, in all her later years, the mystery of existence weighed upon her heart more and more heavily. In a nature so deep and so finely strung, great happiness and great sorrow are divided by a very thin partition.

But spiritual trials and conflict gave its keenest edge to the suffering of these years. Such trials and conflict indeed were not wanting in the earliest stages of her religious life, nor had they been wanting all along its course; but they came now with a power and in a manner almost wholly new; and, while not essentially different from those which have afflicted God's children in all ages, they are yet traceable, in no small degree, to special causes and circumstances in her own case. Early in 1870 she had fallen in with a book entitled "God's Furnace," and a few months later had made the acquaintance of its author—a remarkable woman, of great strength of character, of deep religious experience, and full of zeal for God. Her book was introduced to the Christian public by a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman, and was highly recommended by other eminent divines. By means of this work, as well as by correspondence and an occasional visit, she exerted for a time a good deal of influence over Mrs. Prentiss. At first this influence seemed to be stimulating and healthful, but it was not so in the end. The points of sympathy and the points of difference between them will come out so plainly in Mrs. Prentiss' letters that they need not be indicated here. It would not be easy to imagine two women more utterly dissimilar, except in love to God, devotion to their Saviour, and delight in prayer. These formed the tie between them. Miss ——'s last days were sadly clouded by mental trouble and disease.

A little book called "Holiness through Faith," published about this time, was another disturbing influence in Mrs. Prentiss' religious life. This work and others of a similar character presented a somewhat novel theory of sanctification—a theory zealously taught, and which excited considerable attention in certain circles of the Christian community. It was, in brief, this: As we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law, even so are we sanctified by faith; in other words, as we obtain forgiveness and acceptance with God by a simple act of trust in Christ, so by simple trust in Christ we may attain personal holiness; it is as easy for divine grace to save us at once from the power, as from the guilt, of sin.

For more than thirty years Mrs. Prentiss had made the Christian life a matter of earnest thought and study. The subject of personal holiness in particular had occupied her attention. Whatever promised to shed new light upon it she eagerly read. Her own convictions, however, were positive and decided; and, although at first inclined to accept the doctrine of "Holiness through Faith," further reflection satisfied her that, as taught by its special advocates, it was contrary to Scripture and experience, and was fraught with mischief. Certain unhappy tendencies and results of the doctrine, both at home and abroad, as shown in some of its teachers and disciples, also forced her to this conclusion. Folly of some sort is indeed one of the fatal rocks upon which all overstrained theories of sanctification are almost certain to be wrecked; and in excitable, crude natures, the evil is apt to take the form either of mental extravagance, perhaps derangement, or of silly, if not still worse, conduct. But, while deeply impressed with the mischief of these Perfectionist theories, Mrs. Prentiss felt the heartiest sympathy with all earnest seekers after holiness, and was grieved by what seemed to her harsh or unjust criticisms upon them.

What were her own matured views on the subject will appear in the sequel. It is enough to say here that "Holiness through Faith" and other works, in advocacy of the same or similar doctrines, meeting her as they did when under a severe mental strain, and touching her at a most sensitive point—for holiness was a passion of her whole soul—had for a time a more or less bewildering effect. She kept pondering the questions they raised, until the native hue of her piety—hitherto so resolute and cheerful—became "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought."

The inward conflict which has been referred to she described sometimes, in the language of the old divines, as the want of God's "sensible presence," or of "conscious" nearness to and communion with Christ; sometimes, as a state of "spiritual deprivation or aridity"; and then again, as a work of the Evil One. She laid much stress upon this last point. Her belief in the existence of Satan and his influence over human souls was as vivid as that of Luther; she did not hesitate to accuse him of being the fomenter and, in a sense, the author of her distress; the warnings of the Bible against his "wiles" she accepted as in full force still; and she could offer with all her heart, and with no doubt as to the literal meaning of its closing words, the petition of the old Litany: "That it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand, and to comfort and help the weak-hearted, and to raise up those who fall, and finally to beat down Satan under our feet."

The coming trouble seems to have cast its shadow across her path even before the close of 1870. Early in 1871 it was upon her in power. Her letters contain very interesting and pathetic allusions to this experience. But they do not explain it. Nor is it easy to explain. In the absence of certain inciting causes from without, it would never, perhaps, have assumed a serious form. But these sharp spiritual trials are generally complicated with external causes, or occasions; ill-health, morbid constitutional tendencies, loss of sleep, wearing cares and responsibilities, sudden calamities, worldly loss or disappointment, and the like. It is in the midst of such conditions that pious souls are most apt to be assailed by gloom and despondency. And yet distressing inward struggles and depression arise sometimes in the midst of outward prosperity and even of unusual religious enjoyment. In truth, among all the phenomena of the Christian life none are more obscure or harder to seize than those connected with spiritual conflict and temptation. They belong largely to that terra incognita, the dark back-ground of human consciousness, where are the primal forces of the soul and the mustering-place of good and evil. A certain mystery enshrouds all profound religious emotion; whether of the peace of God that passeth all understanding, or of the anguish that comes of spiritual desertion. Those who are in the midst of the battle, or bear its scars, will instantly recognise an experience like their own; to all others it must needs remain inexplicable. Even in the natural life our deepest joys and sorrows are mostly inarticulate; the great poets come nearest to giving them utterance; but how much the reality always surpasses the descriptions of the poet's pen, even though it be the pen of a Shakespeare, or a Goethe!

Mrs. Prentiss never afterward referred to this "fiery trial" without strong emotion. It terrified her to think of anyone she loved as exposed to it; and—not to speak of other classes—she seemed to regard those as specially exposed to it, who had just passed, or were passing, through an unusually rich and happy religious experience. One of her last letters, addressed to a dear Christian friend, related to this very point. Here are a few sentences from it:

I want to give you EMPHATIC warning that you were never in such danger in your life. This is the language of bitter, bitter experience and is not mine alone. Leighton says the great Pirate lets the empty ships go by and robs the full ones. [1] ... I do hope you will go on your way rejoicing, unto the perfect day. Hold on to Christ with your teeth [2] if your hands get crippled; He, alone, is stronger than Satan; He, alone, knows all "sore temptations" mean.

This, certainly, is strong language and will sound very strange and extravagant in many ears; and yet is it really stronger language than that often used by inspired prophets and apostles? or than that of Augustine, Bernard, Luther, Hooker, Fenelon, Bunyan, and of many saintly women, whose names adorn the annals of piety? Strong as it is, it will find an echo in hearts that have been assailed by the "fiery darts of the adversary," and have learned to cry unto God out of the depths of mental anguish and gloom; while others still in the midst of the conflict, will, perhaps, be helped and comforted to read of the manner in which Mrs. Prentiss passed through it. Nothing in the story of her religious life is more striking and beautiful. Her faith never failed; she glorified God in the midst of it all; she thanked her Lord and Master for "taking her in hand," and begged Him not to spare her for her crying, if so be she might thus learn to love Him more and grow more like Him! And, what is especially noteworthy, her own suffering, instead of paralysing, as severe suffering sometimes does, active sympathy with the sorrows and trials of others, had just the contrary effect. "How soon," she wrote to a friend, "our dear Lord presses our experiences into His own service! How many lessons He teaches us in order to make us 'sons' (or daughters) 'of consolation!'" To another friend she wrote:

I did not perceive any selfishness in you during our interview, and you need not be afraid that I am so taken up with my own affairs as to feel no sympathy with you in yours. What are we made for, if not to bear each other's burdens? And this ought to be the effect of trial upon us; to make us, in the very midst of it, unusually interested in the interests of others. This is the softening, sanctifying tendency of tribulation, and he who lacks it needs harder blows.

At no period of her life was she more helpful to afflicted and tempted souls. In visits to sick-rooms and dying beds, and in letters to friends in trouble, her heart "like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm," poured itself forth in the most tender, soothing ministrations. It seemed at times fairly surcharged with love. Meanwhile she kept her pain to herself; only a few intimate friends, whose prayers she solicited, knew what a struggle was going on in her soul; to all others she appeared very much as in her happiest days. "It is a little curious," she wrote to a young friend, "that suffering as I really am, nobody sees it. 'Always bright!' people say to me to my amazement.... I can add nothing but love, of which I am so full that I keep giving off in thunder and lightning."

The preceding account would be incomplete without adding that the state of her health during this period, combined with a severe pressure of varied and perplexing cares, served to deepen the distress caused by her spiritual trials. Whatever view may be taken of the origin and nature of such trials, it is certain that physical depression and the mental strain that comes of anxious, care-worn thoughts, if not their source, yet tend always greatly to intensify them. In the present case the trials would, perhaps, not have existed without the cares and the ill-health; while the latter, even in the entire absence of the former, would have occasioned severe suffering.

To Mrs. Frederick Field, New York, Jan. 8, 1871.

'If I need make any apology for writing you so often, it must be this—I can not help it. Having dwelt long in an obscure, oftentimes dark valley, and then passed out into a bright plane of life, I am full of tender yearnings over other souls, and would gladly spend my whole time and strength for them. I long, especially, to see your feet established on an immovable Rock. It seems to me that God is preparing you for great usefulness by the fiery trial of your faith. "They learn in suffering what they teach in song." Oh how true this is! Who is so fitted to sing praises to Christ as he who has learned Him in hours of bereavement, disappointment and despair?

What you want is to let your intellect go overboard, if need be, and to take what God gives just as a little child takes it, without money and without price. Faith is His, unbelief ours. No process of reasoning can soothe a mother's empty, aching heart, or bring Christ into it to fill up all that great waste room. But faith can. And faith is His gift; a gift to be won by prayer—prayer persistent, patient, determined; prayer that will take no denial; prayer that if it goes away one day unsatisfied, keeps on saying, "Well, there's to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow; God may wait to be gracious, and I can wait to receive, but receive I must and will." This is what the Bible means when it says, "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force." It does not say the eager, the impatient take it by force, but the violent—they who declare, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." This is all heart, not head work. Do I know what I am talking about? Yes, I do. But my intellect is of no use to me when my heart is breaking. I must get down on my knees and own that I am less than nothing, seek God, not joy; consent to suffer, not cry for relief. And how transcendently good He is when He brings me down to that low place and there shows me that that self-renouncing, self-despairing spot is just the one where He will stoop to meet me!

My dear friend, don't let this great tragedy of sorrow fail to do everything for you. It is a dreadful thing to lose children; but a lost sorrow is the most fearful experience life can bring, I feel this so strongly that I could go on writing all day. It has been said that the intent of sorrow is to "toss us on to God's promises." Alas, these waves too often toss us away out to sea, where neither sun or stars appear for many days. I pray, earnestly, that it may not be so with you.

Among Mrs. Prentiss' most beloved and honored friends in New York was the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Skinner, the first pastor of the Mercer street church, and then, for nearly a quarter of a century, Professor in the Union Theological Seminary. His attachment to her, as also that of his family, was very strong. Dr. Skinner had been among the leaders of the so-called New School branch of the Presbyterian Church. He was a preacher of great spiritual power, an able, large-hearted theologian, and a man of most attractive personal and social qualities. He was artless as a little child, full of enthusiasm for the best things, and a pattern of saintly goodness. It used to be said that every stone and rafter in the Church of the Covenant had felt the touch of his prayers. This venerable servant of God entered into his rest on the 1st of February, 1871, in the 80th year of his age. In a letter to her cousin, Rev. George S. Payson, Mrs. Prentiss thus refers to his last hours:

You will hear at dear Dr. Skinner's funeral to-morrow his dying testimony, and I want you to know that it was whispered in my enraptured ear, that I was privileged to spend the whole of Tuesday and all he lived of Wednesday, at his side, and that mine were the hands that closed his eyes and composed his features in death. What blissful moments were mine, as I saw his sainted soul fly home; how near heaven seemed and still seems!

To Miss E. S. Gilman, New York, Feb. 7, 1871.

I am glad to hear that you have such an interesting class, and yet more glad that you see how much Christian culture they need. I am astonished every day by confessions made to me by young people as to their woful state before God, and do hope that all this is to prepare me to write something for them. I began a series of articles in the Association Monthly, called "Twilight Talks," which may perhaps prove to be in a degree what you want, but still there is much land untraversed. Meanwhile I want to encourage you in your work, by letting you feel my deep sympathy with you in it, and to assure you that nothing will be so blessed to your scholars as personal holiness in yourself. We must practise what we preach, and give ourselves wholly to Christ if we want to persuade others to do it. I am saying feebly what I feel very deeply and constantly. You will rejoice with me that I had the rare privilege of being with dear Dr. Skinner during his last hours. If you have a copy of Watts and Select hymns, read the 106th hymn of the 2d book, beginning at the 2d verse, "Lord, when I quit this earthly stage," and fancy, if you can, the awe and the delight with which I heard him repeat those nine verses, as expressive of his dying love to Christ. I feel that God is always too good to me, but to have Him make me witness of that inspiring scene, humbles me greatly. In how many ways He seeks us, now smiling, now caressing, now reproving, now thwarting, and always doing the very best thing for us that infinite love and goodness can! Let us love Him better and better every day, and count no work for Him too small and unnoticed to be wrought thankfully whenever He gives the opportunity. I hope I am learning to honor the day of small things.

To Mrs. Humphrey, New York, March 14, 1871.

So you have at last broken the ice and made out, after almost a year, to write that promised letter! Well, it was worth waiting for, and welcome when it came, and awakened in me an enthusiasm about seeing the dear creature, of which I hardly thought my old heart was capable (that statement is an affectation; my heart isn't old, and never will be). Our plan now is, if all prospers, to go to Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, spend the night with you, Saturday with Mrs. Kirkbride, and Sunday and part of Monday with you. I hope you mean to let us have a quiet little time with you, unbeknown to strangers, whom I dread and shrink from....

March 28th.—What a queer way we womenkind have of confiding in each other with perfectly reckless disregard of consequences! It is a mercy that men are, for the most part, more prudent, though not half so delightful!... Well, I'm ever so glad I've seen you in your home, only I found you more frail (in the way of health) than I found you fair. We hear that your husband preached "splendidly," as of course we knew he would, and the next exchange I shall be there to hear as well as to see.

Coming out of the cars yesterday, I picked up a "Daily Food," dropped, I suppose, by its owner, "Sarah ——," of Philadelphia, given her by "Miss H. in 1853." It has travelled all over Europe, and is therefore no doubt precious to her who thus made it her friend. Now how shall I get it to her? Can you learn her address, or shall I write to her at a venture, without one? I know how I felt—when I once lost mine; it was given me in 1835, and has gone with me ever since whenever I have journeyed (as I was so happy as to find it again). [3] I think if I have the pleasure of restoring it to its owner, she will feel glad that it did not fall into profane hands. I thought it right to look through it, in order to get some clue, if possible, to its destination; I fancy it was the silent comforter of a wife who went abroad with her husband for his health, and came home a widow; God bless her, whoever she is, for she evidently believes in and loves Him. What sort of a world can it be to those who don't? [4] Remember me affectionately to yourself and your dear ones, and now we've got a-going, let's go ahead.

April 1st.—What a pity it is that one can't have a separate language with which to address each beloved one! It seems so mean to use the same words to two or three or four people one loves so differently! Now about my visit to you. One reason why I did not stay longer was your looking worn out. When I am feeling so dragged, visitors are a great wear and tear to me. But I am afraid my selfishness would have got the upperhand of me if that were the whole story. I can't put into words the perfect horror I have of being made into a somebody; it fairly hurts me, and if I had stayed a week with you and the host of people you had about you, I should have shriveled up into the size of a pea. I can't deny having streaks of conceit, but I know enough about myself to make my rational moments bid me keep in the background, and it excruciates me to be set up on a pinnacle. So don't blame me if I fled in terror, and that I am looking forward to your visit, when I hope to have delightful pow-wows with you all by ourselves.

I am glad that little book can be returned, and I will mail it to you. I couldn't send it without a loving word; it seemed to fall so providentially into my hands and knock so at the door of my heart. In what strange ways people get introduced to each other, and how subtle are the influences that excite a bond of sympathy!... What do you do with girls who fall madly and desperately in love with you? Do you laugh at them, or scold them, or love them, or what? I used to do just such crazy things, and am not sure I never do them now. Did you ever live in a queerer world than this is?

To Miss E.S. Gilman, New York, April 29, 1871.

The subject of your letter is one that greatly interests me, and I should be glad to get more light upon it myself. As far as I know, those who live apart from the world, communing with God and working for Him chiefly in prayer, have least temptation to wandering and distracted thoughts, and are more devout and spiritual than those of us who live more in the world. But it stands to reason that we can't all live so. The outside work must go on, and somebody must do it. But of course we have the hardest time, since while in the world we must not be of it. I have come, of late, to think that both classes are needed, the contemplative and the active, and God does certainly take the latter aside now and then as you suggest, by sickness and in other ways, to set them thinking. Holiness is not a mere abstraction; it is praying and loving and being consecrate, but it is also the doing kind deeds, speaking friendly words, being in a crowd when we thirst to be alone, and so on and so on. The study of Christ's life on earth reveals Him to us as incessantly busy, yet taking special seasons for prayer. It seems to me that we should imitate Him in this respect, and when we find ourselves particularly pressed by outward cares and duties, break short off and withdraw from them till a spiritual tone returns. For we can do nothing well unless we do it consciously for Christ, and this consciousness sometimes gets jostled out of us when we undertake to do too much. The more perfectly He is formed in us the more light we shall get on every path of duty, the less likely to go astray from the happy medium of not all contemplation, not all activity. And to have Him thus to dwell in us we are led to pray by His own last prayer for us on earth, when He asked for the "I in them." Let us pray for each other that this may be our blessed lot. Nothing will fit us for life but this. In ourselves we do nothing but err and sin. In Him we are complete.

* * * * *

II.

Her Husband called to Chicago. Lines on going to Dorset. Letters to young Friends, on the Christian Life. Narrow Escape from Death. Feeling on returning to Town. Her "Praying Circle." The Chicago Fire. The true Art of Living. God our only safe Teacher. An easily-besetting Sin. Counsels to young Friends. Letters.

Mrs. Prentiss' letters relating to her husband's call to Chicago require perhaps an explanatory word. She had some very pleasant associations with Chicago. It was the home of a brother and sister-in-law, to whom she was deeply attached, and of other dear relatives. There Stepping Heavenward had first appeared, and many unknown friends—grateful for the good it had done them—were eager to form her acquaintance and bid her welcome to the great city of the Interior. And yet the thought of removing there filled her with the utmost distress. Had her husband's call been to some distant post in the field of Foreign Missions, her language on the subject could hardly have been stronger. But this language in reality expresses simply the depth of her devotion to her church and her friends in New York, her morbid shyness and shrinking from the presence of strangers, and, especially, her vivid sense of physical inability to make the change without risking the loss of what health and power of sleep still remained to her. Misgiving on this last point caused her husband to hesitate long before accepting the call, and to feel in after years that his decision to accept it, although conscientiously made, had been a grave mistake.

To Mrs. Condict, New York, June 3, 1871.

I knew that you would rather hear from me than through the papers, the fact that Mr. Prentiss has been once more unanimously elected by the General Assembly to the Chicago Professorship. He has come home greatly perplexed as to his duty, and prepared to do it, at any reasonable cost, if he can only find out what it is. We built our Dorset house not as a mere luxury, but with the hope that the easy summer there would so build up our health as to increase and prolong our usefulness; but going to Chicago would deprive us of that, besides cutting us off from all our friends. But we want to know no will but God's in this question, and I am sure you and Miss K. will join us in the prayer that we may not so much as suggest to Him what path He will lead us into. The experience of the past winter would impress upon me the fact that place and position have next to nothing to do with happiness; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant in a dungeon. Mr. P. said yesterday that it broke his heart to hear me talk of giving up Dorset; but perhaps this heartbreaking is exactly what we need to remind us of what for many years we never had a chance to forget, that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. Two lines of my own keep running in my head:

Oh foolish heart, oh faithless heart, oh heart on ruin bent, Build not with too much care thy nest, thou art in banishment.

I have seen the time when the sense of being a pilgrim and a stranger was very sweet; and God can sweeten whatever He does to us. So though perplexed we are not in despair, and if we feel that we are this summer living in a tent that may soon blow down, it is just what you are doing, and in this point we shall have fellowship. I am sure it is good for us to have God take up the rod, even if He lays it down again without inflicting a blow. I know we are going to pray till light comes. I feel very differently about it from what I did last summer. The mental conflicts of the past winter have created a good deal of indifference to everything. Without conscious union and nearness to my Saviour I can't be happy anywhere; for years He has been the meaning of everything, and when He only seems gone (I know it is only seeming) I don't much care where I am. I am just trying to be patient till He makes Satan let go of me. Excuse this selfish letter, and write me one just as bad!

On the 7th of June she went to Dorset with her husband and the younger children. The following lines, found among her papers, will show in what temper of mind she went. It is worth noting that they were written on Monday, and express a week-day, not merely a passing Sabbath feeling:

Once more at home, once more at home— For what, dear Lord, I pray? To seek enjoyment, please myself, Make life a summer's day?

I shrink, I shudder at the thought; For what is home to me, When sin and self enchain my heart, And keep it far from Thee?

There is but one abiding joy, Nor place that joy can give; It is Thy presence that makes home, That makes it "life to live."

That presence I invoke; naught else I venture to entreat; I long to see Thee, hear Thy voice, To sit at Thy dear feet.

To a young Friend, Dorset, June 12, 1871.

I trust it is an omen of good that the first letters I have received since coming here this summer, have been full of the themes I love best. I was much struck with the sentence you quote, "They can not go back," etc., [5] and believe it is true of you. Being absorbed in divine things will not make you selfish; you will be astonished to find how loving you will gradually grow toward everybody, how interested in their interests, how happy in their happiness. And if you want work for Christ (and the more you love Him the more you will long for it), that work will come to you in all sorts of ways. I do not believe much in duty-work; I think that work that tells is the spontaneous expression of the love within. Perhaps you have not been sick enough yourself to be skilful in a sick-room; perhaps your time for that sort of work hasn't come. I meant to get you a little book called "The Life of Faith"; in fact, I went down town on purpose to get it, and passed the Episcopal Sunday-school Union inadvertently. I think that little book teaches how everything we do may be done for Christ, and I know by what little experience I have had of it, that it is a blessed, thrice blessed way to live. A great deal is meant by the "cup of cold water," and few of us women have great deeds to perform, and we must unite ourselves to Him by little ones. The life of constant self-discipline God requires is a happy one; you and I, and others like us, find a wild, absorbing joy in loving and being loved; but sweet, abiding peace is the fruit of steady check on affections that must be tamed and kept under. Is this consistent with what I have just said about growing more loving as we grow more Christlike? Yes, it is; for that love is absolutely unselfish, it gives much and asks nothing, and there is nothing restless about it.... I have been very hard at work ever since I came here, with my darling M. as my constant, joyous comrade. We have been busy with our flower-beds, sowing and transplanting, and half the china closet has tumbled out of doors to serve as protection from the sun. Mr. Prentiss says we do the work of three days in one, which is true, for we certainly have performed great feats. The night we got here we found the house lighted up, and the dining-table covered with good things. People seem glad to see us back. I don't know which of my Dorset titles would strike you as most appropriate; one man calls me a "branch," another "a child of nature," and another "Mr. Prentiss' woman," with the consoling reflection that I sha'n't rust out.

To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, August 6, 1871.

I don't know when I have written so few letters as I have this summer. My right hand has forgot its cunning under the paralysis, under which my heart has suffered, and which is now beginning to affect my health quite unfavorably. It seems as if body and soul, joints and marrow, were rudely separating. Poor George is half-distracted with the weight of the questions concerning Chicago, and I think almost anything would be better than this crucifying suspense. But I try not to make a fuss. Mrs. D—— can tell you that I have said to her many times, during the last few years, that, according to the ordinary run of life, things would not long remain with us as they were; they were too good to last.

I have read and re-read "Spiritual Dislodgments," and remember it well. I certainly wish for such dislodgments in me and mine, if we need them. George has got hold of a book of A.'s, which delights him, Letters of William Von Humboldt. [6] I suppose you recommended it to her. You must make your plans to come here this summer; I don't seem fully to have a thing till you've seen it.

To Mrs. Humphrey, Dorset, Aug. 8, 1871.

It took you a good while to answer my last letter, and I have been equally lazy about writing since yours strayed this way. Letter-writing has always been a resource and a pastime to me; a refuge in head-achy and rainy days, and a tiny way to give pleasure or do good, when other paths were hedged up. But this summer I have left almost everybody in the lurch, partly from being more or less unwell and out of spirits, partly because the Chicago question, remaining unsettled, has been such a damper that I hadn't much heart to speak either of it or of anything else. We are perplexed beyond measure what to do; the thought of losing my minister and having him turn into a professor, agonizes me; on the other hand, who knows but he needs the rest that change of labor and the five months' vacation would give him? His chief worry is the effect the attending funerals all the time has already had on my health. One day I part with and bury (in imagination!) now this friend, now that, and this mournful work does not sharpen one's appetite or invigorate one's frame. I don't know how we've stood the conflict; and it seems rather selfish to allude to my part of it; but women live more in their friendships than men do, and the thought of tearing up all our roots is more painful to me than to my husband, and he will not lose what I must lose in addition, and as I have said before, my minister, which is the hardest part of it.

I want you to know what straits we are in, in the hope that you and yours will be stirred up to pray that we may make no mistake, but go or stay as the Lord would have us. We have found our little home a nice refuge for us in the storm; Mr. P. says he should have gone distracted in a boarding-house. I do not envy you the Conway crowd. But I fancy it is a good region for collecting mosses and like treasures. I think the prettiest thing in our house is a flattish bracket, fastened to the wall and filled with flowers; it looks like a graceful, meandering letter S and is one of the idols I bow down to.... I have "Holiness through Faith"; the first time I read it at Mr. R——'s request, I said I believed every word of it, but this summer, reading it in a different mood, it puzzles me. The idea is plausible; if God tells us to be holy, as He certainly does, is it not for Him to provide the way for our being so, and is it likely He needs our whole lives before He can accomplish His own design? I talked with Mr. Prentiss about it, and at first he rejected the thought of holiness through faith, but last night we got upon the subject again and he was interested in some sentences I read to him and said he must examine the book. When are you coming to spend that week in Dorset? Love to each and all.

To a young Friend, Kauinfels, Sept. 9, 1871.

I have had many letters to write to-day, for to-day our fate is sealed, and we are to go. But I must say a few words to you before going to bed, for I want to tell you how very glad I am that you have been enabled to take a step [7] which will, I am sure, lead the way to other steps, increase your holiness, your usefulness, and your happiness. May God bless you in this attempt to honor Him, and open out before you new fields wherein to glorify and please Him. This has not been a sorrowful day to me. I hope I am offering to a "patient God a patient heart." I do not want to make the worst of the sacrifice He requires, or to fancy I am only to be happy on my own conditions. He has been most of the time for years "the spring of all my joys, the life of my delights." Where He is, I want to be; where He bids me go, I want to go, and to go in courage and faith. Anything is better than too strong cleaving to this world. As I was situated in New York, I lacked not a single earthly blessing. I had a delightful home, freedom from care, and a circle of friends whom I loved with all my heart, and who loved me in a way to satisfy even my rapacity. Only one thing was wanting to my perfect felicity—a heart absolutely holy; and was I likely to get that when my earthly cup was so full? At any rate I am content. Now and then, as the reality of this coming separation overwhelms me, I feel a spasm of pain at my heart (I don't suppose we are expected to cease to be human beings or to lose our sensibilities), but if my Lord and Master will go with me, and keeps on making me more and more like Himself, I can be happy anywhere and under any conditions, or be made content not to be happy. All this is of little consequence in itself, but perhaps it may make me more of a blessing to others, which, next to personal holiness, is the only thing to be sought very earnestly. As to my relation to you, He who brought you under my wing for a season has something better for you in store. That's His way. And wherever I am, if it is His will and His Spirit dictates the prayer, I shall pray for you, and that is the best service one soul can render another.

About this time she and her husband had an almost miraculous escape from instant death. They had been calling upon friends in East Dorset and were returning home. Not far from that village is a very dangerous railroad crossing; and, as the sight or sound of cars so affrighted Coco as to render him uncontrollable, special pains had been taken not to arrive at the spot while a train was due. But just as they reached it, an "irregular" train, whose approach was masked behind high bushes, came rushing along unannounced, and had they been only a few seconds later, would have crushed them to atoms. So severe was the shock and so vivid the sense of a Providential escape, that scarcely a word was spoken during the drive home. The next morning she gave her husband a very interesting account of the thoughts that, like lightning, flashed upon her mind while feeling herself in the jaws of death. They related exclusively to her children—how they would receive the news, and what would become of them. [8]

Late in September she returned to town, still oppressed by the thought of going to Chicago. In a letter to Mrs. Condict, dated October 2d, she writes:

We got home on Friday night, and very early on Saturday were settled down into the old routine. But how different everything is! At church tearful, clouded faces; at home, warmhearted friends looking upon us as for the last time. It is all right. I would not venture to change it if I could; but it is hard. At times it seems as if my heart would literally break to pieces, but we are mercifully kept from realising our sorrows all the time. The waves dash in and almost overwhelm, but then they sweep back and are stayed by an almighty, kind hand.... It is like tearing off a limb to leave our dear prayer-meeting. Next to my closet, it has been to me the sweetest spot on earth. I never expect to find such another.

To another friend she writes a day or two later:

My heart fairly collapses at times, at the thought of tearing myself away from those whom Christian ties have made dearer to me than my kindred after the flesh. And then comes the precious privilege and relief of telling my yet dearer and better Friend all about it, and the sweet peace begotten of yielding my will to His. I want to be of all the use and comfort to you and to the other dear ones He will let me be during these few months. Do pray for me that I may so live Christ as to bear others along with me on a resistless tide. Those lines you copied for me are a great comfort:

"Rather walking with Him by faith, Than walking alone in the light."

Of the little praying circle, alluded to in her letter to Mrs. C., one of its members writes:

It was unique even among meetings of its own class. Held in an upper chamber, never largely attended and sometimes only by the "two or three," it was almost unknown except to the few, who regarded it as among their chiefest religious privileges. All the other members would gladly have had Mrs. Prentiss assume its entire leadership; but she assumed nothing and was no doubt quite unconscious as to how large an extent she was the life and soul of the meeting. In the familiar conversation of the hour nothing fell from her lips but such simple words as, coming from a glowing heart, strengthened and deepened the spiritual life of all who heard them. She had, in a degree I never knew equalled, the gift of leading the devotions of others. But there was not the slightest approach to performance in her prayers; she abhorred the very thought of it. Those who knelt with her can never forget the pure devotion which breathed itself forth in simple exquisite language; but it was something beyond the power of description.

Another member of the circle writes:

Her prayers were so simple, so earnest, so childlike. We all felt we were in the very presence of our loving Father. One thing especially always impressed me during that sacred hour—it was her quietness of manner. She was very cordial and affectionate in her greetings with each one, as we assembled, and then a holy awe, a solemn hush, came over her spirit and she seemed like one who saw the Lord! O how we all miss her! There is never a meeting but we keep her in remembrance and talk together lovingly about her.

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