The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss
by George L. Prentiss
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"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 those that know Thee not, learn Thee to know."

At a comparatively early period of her Christian experience, the theme of her prayer was: "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory"; for in the answer to that prayer there seemed, as she said, to be summed up everything that she needed or could desire. In a paper in which she recorded some of her aspirations, she wrote: "Let my life be an all-day looking to Jesus. Let my love to God be so deep, earnest, and all-pervading, that I can not have even the passing emotion of rebellion to suppress. There is such a thing as an implicit faith in, and consequent submission to, Christ. Let me never rest till they are fully mine."

I do not know the precise date, but I think it could not have been very late when she received a mighty answer to the prayer to behold God's glory. New views of Christian privilege and of the relation of Christ to believing souls came with prayerful searching of the Scriptures. She entered, to use her own words, upon "a life of incessant peace and serenity—notwithstanding it became, by degrees, one of perpetual self- denial and effort." The consciousness of God never left her. The whole world seemed holy ground. Prayer became a perpetual delight. The pride and turbulence of nature grew quiet under these gentle influences, and anything from God's hand seemed just right and quite good.

The secret of her peace and of her usefulness lay very largely in the prayerfulness of her life. From her early years, prayer was her delight. In describing the comforts of her chamber in the school at Richmond, she noted as its crowning charm the daily presence of the Eternal King, who condescended to make it His dwelling-place. With the deeper experiences of which we have spoken came a fresh delight in prayer. "It was very delightful," she says, "to pray all the time; all day long; not only for myself, but for the whole world—particularly for all those who loved Christ." Her views of prayer were Scriptural, and, therefore, discriminating. She fully accepted Paul's statement that "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" without the help of the Spirit; and, therefore, she always spoke of prayer as something to be learned. If she believed that a Christian "learns to pray when first he lives," she believed also that the prayer of the infant Christian life was like the feeble breath of infancy. She understood by prayer something far more and higher than the mere preferring of petitions. It was communion; God's Spirit responding harmoniously to our own. With Coleridge she held, that the act of praying with the total concentration of the faculties is the very highest energy of which the human heart is capable. Hence she was accustomed to speak of learning the mysterious art of prayer by an apprenticeship at the throne of grace. She somewhere wrote: "I think many of the difficulties attending the subject of prayer would disappear if it could be regarded in early life as an art that must be acquired through daily, persistent habits with which nothing shall be allowed to interfere." She saw that prayer is not to be made dependent on the various emotive states in which one comes to God. "The question," she said, "is not one of mere delight." The Roman Catholic poet accurately expressed her thought on this point:

"Prayer was not meant for luxury, Nor selfish pastime sweet; It is the prostrate creature's place At the Creator's feet."

She illustrated in her own quaint way the truth that moods have nothing to do with the duty of prayer. When one of your little brothers asks you to lend him your knife, do you inquire first what is the state of his mind? If you do, what reply can he make but this: "The state of my mind is, I want your knife."

With her natural temperament and inherited tendencies she might, perhaps, under other influences have been drawn too far over to the emotional, or at least to the contemplative side of religious life. But she saw and avoided the danger. She discerned the harmony and just balance between the contemplative and the active Christian life, and felt that they ought to co-exist in every genuine experience. She attached as little meaning to a life of mere raptures as to one of bare, loveless duty. "Christian life," she wrote, "is not all contemplation and prayer; it is not all muscle and sinew. It is a perfect, practicable union of the two. I believe in your joyful emotions if they result in self-denying, patient work for Christ—I believe in your work if it is winged by faith and prayer." She had scored this passage in her copy of Fenelon: "To be constantly in a state of enjoyment that takes away the feeling of the cross, and to live in a fervor of devotion that continually keeps Paradise open—this is not dying upon the cross and becoming nothing."

Such experience and such views were behind the active side of her life, as represented by her personal ministries and by the work of her pen. The one book in which she endeavored to embody formally her views of Christian doctrine and experience did not, as might have been expected, find the same reception or the same response which were accorded to other productions. It was a book which appealed to a smaller and higher class of readers. But, when she wrought these same truths into pictures of living men and women—when she illustrated them at the points where they touched the drudgery and commonplace of thousands of lives—when she opened outlooks for hundreds of discouraged souls upon the roads where hundreds more were bearing the very same burdens, and yet stepping heavenward under their pressure—when she, who had walked in the fire herself, went to her sisters in the same old furnace and told them of her vision of the form of the Fourth—when she went down to the many who were sadly working out the mistakes of ill-judged alliances, and lifted the veil from sorrows which separate their subject from human sympathy because they must be borne in silence—when she told such how heaven might come even into their life—when she, with her hands yet bleeding from the grasp of her own cross, came to other sufferers, not to mock them by the show of an unattainable beauty and an impossible peace, but to offer them divine peace and the beauty of the Lord in the name of her Saviour—then she spoke with a power which multitudes felt and confessed.

I am sure that hers is, in an eminent degree, the blessing of them that were ready to perish. Weary, overtaxed mothers; misunderstood and unappreciated wives, servants, pale seamstresses, delicate women forced to live in an atmosphere of drunkenness and coarse brutality, widows and orphans in the bitterness of their bereavement, mothers with their tears dropping over empty cradles—to thousands of such she was a messenger from heaven.

Of all her seventeen or eighteen published volumes, "Stepping Heavenward" is the one which best represents her and her life-work—not that she produced nothing else of value, nor that many of her other books were not widely read, greatly enjoyed, and truly useful; but "Stepping Heavenward" seemed to meet so many real, deep, inarticulate cravings in such a multitude of hearts, that the response to it was instant and general....

She wrote for readers of all ages. Not the least fruitful work of her pen was bestowed upon the little ones; and in the number of copies circulated, the Susy Books stand next to Stepping Heavenward. Through those little half allegories she initiated the children into the rudiments of self-control, discipline and consecration, and taught eyes and hands and tongue and feet the noble uses of the kingdom of God. Even from these children's stories the thought of the discipline of suffering was not absent, and Mr. Pain, as many mothers will remember, figures among Little Susy's Six Teachers. With the same pure and wholesome lessons, and with the same easy vivacity she appealed to youth through "The Flower of the Family," "The Percys," and "Nidworth," and it would be hard to say by readers of what age was monopolised the interest in "Aunt Jane's Hero," "Fred and Maria and Me," and those two little gems—"The Story Lizzie Told," and "Gentleman Jim."

While all her writings were religious in the best sense, they were in nothing more so than in their cheerfulness. They were not only happy and hopeful in their general tone, but sparkled with her delicate and sprightly humor. The children of her books were not religious puppets, moving in time to the measured wisdom of their elders, but real children of flesh and blood, acting and talking out their impish conceits, and in nowise conspicuous by their precocious goodness.

I think that those who knew her best in her literary relations, will agree with me that no better type of a consecrated literary talent can be found in the lists of authors. She received enough evidences of popular appreciation to have turned the heads of many writers. Over 200,000 bound volumes of her books have been sold in this country alone, to say nothing of the circulation in England, France, and Germany. She was not displeased at success, as I suppose no one is—but success to her meant doing good. She did not write for popularity, and her aversion to having her own literary work mentioned to her was so well known by her friends, that even those who wished to express to her their gratitude for the good they had received from her books were constrained to be silent. "While," says her publisher, "she was very sensitive to any criticism based on a misconception or a perversion of her purpose, never, in all my intercourse with her, did I discover the slightest evidence of a spirit of literary pique, or pride, or ambition."

In attempting to sum up the characteristics of her writings, time will suffer me only to state the more prominent features without enlarging upon details.

First, and most prominent, was their purpose. Her pen moved always and only under a sense of duty. She held her talent as a gift from God, and consecrated it sacredly to the enforcement and diffusion of His truth. If I may quote once more the words of her publisher in his tribute to her memory—"her great desire and determination to educate in the highest and best schools was never overlooked or forgotten. She never, like many writers of religious fiction, caught the spirit of sensationalism that is in the air, or sought for effects in unhealthy portraiture, corrupt style, or unnatural combinations."

Second, she was unconventional. Her writings were not religious in any stereotyped, popular sense. Her characters were not stenciled. The holiest of them were strongly and often amusingly individualized. She did not try to make automatons to repeat religious commonplaces, but actual men and women, through whose very peculiarities the Holy Spirit revealed His presence and work.

Third, I have already referred to her sprightliness. She had naturally a keen sense of humor which overflowed both in her conversation and in her books. She saw nothing in the nature of the faith she professed which bade her lay violent hands on this propensity; and she once said that if her religion could not stand her saying a funny thing now and then it was not worth much. But, whatever she might say or write of this character, one never felt that it betrayed any irreverent lightness of spirit. The undertone of her life was so deeply reverential, so thoroughly pervaded with adoring love for Christ, that it made itself felt through all her lighter moods, like the ground-swell of the sea through the sparkling ripples on the surface.

Fourth, her style was easy, colloquial, never stilted or affected, marked at times by an energy and incisiveness which betrayed earnest thought and intense feeling. She aimed to impress the truth, not her style, and therefore aimed at plainness and directness. Her hard common sense, of which her books reveal a goodly share, was offset by her vivid fancy which made even the region of fable tributary to the service of truth.

Fifth, her books were intensely personal; expressions, I mean, of her own experience. Many of her characters and scenes are simple transcripts of fact, and much of what she taught in song, was a repetition of what she had learned in suffering.

To go back once more to her office of consoler. She exercised this not only through her books, but also through her personal ministries in those large and widening circles which centred in her literary and pastoral life. Those who were favored with her friendship in times of sorrow found her a comforter indeed. Her letters, of which, at such times, she was prodigal, were to many sore hearts as leaves from the tree of life. She did not expect too much of a sufferer. She recognized human weakness as well as divine strength. But in all her attempts at consolation, side by side with her deep and true sympathy, went the lesson of the harvest of sorrow. She was always pointing the mourner past the floods, to the high place above them—teaching him to sing even amid the waves and billows—"the Lord will command His loving-kindness"; "I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance." "I knew," she wrote to a bereaved friend, "that God would never afflict you so, if He had not something beautiful and blissful to give in place of what He took." The insight which her writings revealed into many and subtle aspects of sorrow, made her the recipient of hosts of letters from strangers, opening to her their griefs, and asking her counsel; and to all she gave freely and joyfully as far as her strength and time and judgment would allow. There was a tonic vein mingling with her comforts. Her touch was firm as well as tender. She knew the shoals of morbid sentimentality which skirt the deeps of trouble, and sought to pilot the sorrowing past the shoals to the shore.

And now, having thus spoken of her preparation for God's work, the work itself, and its fruits, how can we gather up and depict the many personal traits and associations which crowd upon the memory? Of such things how many are incapable of reproduction, their fine flavor vanishing with the moment. How often that which most commends them to remembrance lies in the glance of an eye, an inflection of the voice, an expression of the face, which neither pen nor pencil can put on record.

How many such recollections, for example, group themselves round that beautiful home among the hills. How it bore her mark and was pervaded with her presence, and seemed, more than any other spot, the appropriate setting of her life. Now she was at her chamber window studying the ever shifting lights and shadows on the hills; now rambling over the fields and through the woods and returning with her hands laden with flowers and grasses; now busy with her ferns in her garden; again beguiling the hours with her pencil, or stealing away to develop some happy fancy or fresh thought on which her mind had been working for days. And how pleasant her talk. How she would dart off sometimes from the line of the gravest theme into some quaint, mirth-provoking conceit. How many odd things she had seen; of how many strange adventures she had partaken, and how graphically and charmingly she told them. With what relish she would bring forth some good thing saved up to tell to one who would appreciate it; yet, on the other hand, how earnestly, how intelligently, with what simplicity, with what eager delight would she pursue the discussion of the deep things of God. Nor was her home merely a place of rest and retirement. Its doors were ever wide open to congenial spirits, and also to some of Christ's poor, to whom the healing breath of the mountains and the rare sights and sounds of country life were as gifts from heaven. In that little community she was not content to be a mere summer idler. There, too, she pursued her ministry of comfort and of instruction. Eternity alone will reveal the fruitage of the seeds she sowed in her weekly Bible-reading, to which the women came for miles over the mountain roads, through storm and through sunshine.

And here the end came. Death, if a surprise at all to her, could only be a pleasant surprise. In one of her stories an old family servant says of her departed mistress: "Often's the time I've heard her talk about dying, and I mind a time when she thought she was going, and there was a light in her eye, and it was just as she looked when she said, 'Mary, I'm going to be married.'" It was a leaf out of her own life. She had marked in one of her books of devotion a passage which, I imagine, summed up her view of the whole matter: "A true Christian is neither fond of life nor weary of it." She had no sentimental disgust with life, but her overmastering desire was to see and be like her Lord, and death was the entrance gate to that perfect vision. Only the opening of that portal could bring the full answer to her prayer of years, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory." In this attitude the messenger found her. I will not dwell on the closing scenes.... It is pleasanter to turn from that long, weary Sabbath, when nature in its perfect beauty and repose seemed to mock the bitter agony of the death-chamber, to the hour when, with the first full brightness of the morning, the silver cord was loosed, and she was present with the Lord. Surely it was something more than an accidental coincidence that, in the little "Daily Food," which for nearly forty years had been her closet companion, the passage for the 13th of August was: "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." That summer afternoon when she was laid to rest had a brightness which was not all of the glories of the setting sun, as he burst forth from the encircling clouds, and touched with his parting splendor the gates of the grave. Nature, with its fulness of summer life, was set in the key of the resurrection by the assurance of her victory over death, and it was with a new and mighty sense of their truth that we spoke over her ashes the words of the Apostle: "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

So now, as then, more even than then, since these months have given us time to study the lesson of that life and the sources of its power, we give thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord; thanks for the divine processes which moulded a daughter of consolation; thanks for the fountains of comfort opened by her along life's highways and which continue to flow while she sleeps in Jesus; thanks for a good and fruitful life ended "in the communion of the Holy Catholic Church, in the confidence of a certain faith, in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope, in charity with all mankind, and in peace with God."

* * * * *


A List of Mrs. Prentiss' Writings, with notices of some of them and the dates of their publication:

1. Little Susy's Six Birthdays. 1853.

2. Only a Dandelion, and other Stories. 1854.

The first piece, from which the little book takes its name, was written at the time, and is not excelled by anything of the kind written by Mrs. Prentiss. Spring Breeze is as fresh and delicate as a May flower. The other stories are mostly a selection from her early contributions to The Youth's Companion.

3. Henry and Bessie; or, What they did in the Country. 1855.

4. Little Susy's Six Teachers. 1856.

5. Little Susy's Little Servants. 1856.

The three Little Susy books were republished in England, where they seem to have been as popular among the children as at home. Not far from 50,000 copies have been sold in this country.

6. The Flower of the Family. A Book for Girls. 1856.

This work has had a wide circulation at home and abroad. Some 19,000 copies have been sold here. The following is the title-page of one of the French editions:

* * * * *

Le Fleur de La Famille ou Simple Histoire pour Les Jeunes Filles.

Ouvrage Americain.

Cinquieme edition.

Toulouse, Societe des Livres Religieux. 1877.

* * * * *

Die Perle der Familie is the German title. Here are a few sentences from a highly laudatory notice in the well-known "Neue Preuss. Zeitung":

In ausserordentlicher lieblicher und sinniger Weise wird uns ein haeusliches, schlichtes, von edlem Christlichen Sinn getragenes Familien- leben forgefuehrt, das durch seine treffliche Characterschilderung unser lebhaftestes Interesse flir jedes Glied des kinderreichen Hauses in Anspruch nimmt. Es ist im eigentlichsten Sinne ein Buch fuer die Familie.

The Flower of the Family was translated into German,—as were also Stepping Heavenward, The Percys, Fred and Maria and Me,—by Miss Marie Morgenstern, of Goettingen. Some omissions in the version of Stepping Heavenward mar a little the vivacity of the book; but otherwise her work seems to have been very carefully and well done, and to have met with the warm approval of the German public.

7. Peterchen and Gretchen; or, Tales of Early Childhood. 1860.

This is a translation from the German.

8. The Little Preacher. 1867.

One of the most striking of her smaller works. It has throughout the flavor of German peasant life and of the Black Forest. But it seems never to have found its way across the sea.

9. Little Threads; or, Tangle Thread, Silver Thread, and Golden Thread. 1868.

The aim of Little Threads is happily indicated in its closing sentences:

If you find that you like to have your own way a good deal better than you like your mamma to have hers; if you pout and cry when you can not do as you please; if you never own that you are in the wrong, and are sorry for it; never, in short, try with all your might to be docile and gentle, then your name is Tangle Thread, and you may depend you cost your mamma many sorrowful hours and many tears. And the best thing you can do is to go away by yourself and pray to Jesus to make you see how naughty you are, and to make you humble and sorry. Then the old and soiled thread that can be seen in your mother's life will disappear, and in its place there will come first a silver, and by and by, with time and patience, and God's loving help, a sparkling and beautiful golden one. And do you know of anything in this world you should rather be than Somebody's Golden Thread?—especially the Golden Thread of your dear mamma, who has loved you so many years, who has prayed for you so many years, and who longs so to see you gentle and docile like Him of whom it was said: "Behold the Lamb of God!"

Little Threads is based upon a very keen observation of both the dark and the bright side of childhood. The allegory, in which its lessons are wrought, is, perhaps, less simple and attractive than that of Little Susy's Six Teachers, or that of Little Susy's Little Servants; but the lessons themselves are full of the sweetest wisdom, pathos, and beauty.

10. Little Lou's Sayings and Doings. 1868.

Among the papers of her sister, Mrs. Prentiss found a journal containing numerous little incidents in the early life of her only child, together with more or less of his boyish sayings. Much of the material found in this journal was used in the composition of Little Lou; and that is one thing that gives it such an air of perfect reality.

11. Fred and Maria and Me. 1868.

12. The Old Brown Pitcher. 1868.

This is a temperance tale. It was written at the request of the National Temperance Society and issued for their press.

13. Stepping Heavenward. 1869.

Some interesting details respecting this work have been given already. Its circulation has been very large, both at home and abroad; far greater than that of any other of Mrs. Prentiss' books. More than 67,000 copies of it have been sold in this country; while in England it was issued by several houses, and tens of thousands of copies have been sold there, in Canada, in Australia, and in other parts of the British dominions.

Among the English houses that republished Stepping Heavenward, were James Nisbet & Co.; Ward, Lock & Co.; Frederick Warne & Co.; Thomas Nelson & Sons, London and Edinburgh; Milner & Co.; Weldon & Co. An edition by the last-named house, neatly printed and intended specially for circulation in Canada and Australia, as well as at home, was sold at fivepence, so that the very poorest could buy it. No accurate estimate can be formed of the number of copies circulated in Great Britain and its dependencies, but it must have been enormous. It was also issued at Leipsic, by Tauchnitz, in his famous "Collection of British Authors." The German translation has already passed into a fourth edition—a remarkable proof of its popularity. In the preface to this edition Miss Morgenstern, the translator, says: "So moege sie denn hinausziehen in die Welt, diese vierte Auflage, moege wiederum aufklopfen an die Stuben und Herzenthueren, der deutschen Lesewelt, und nachdem ihr aufgethan, hineintragen in die Stuben und Herzen, was ihre Vorgaengerinnen hineintrugen;—Freude und Rath und Trost." Nowhere has the work won higher, or more discriminating, praise than in Germany. The following extract from one of the critical notices of it may serve as an instance:

In Form von Tagebuch—Aufzeichnungen, somit Selbstbekenntnissen, wird uns das Leben einer Frau erzaelt, welche—ohne andere aeussere Schickungen freudiger und trueber Art, als sie in jedem Leben vorzukommen pflegen—aus einem zwar gutartigen und wohlbegabten aber Susserst reizbaren und leidenshaftlich erregten Muedchen zu einer gelaeuterten Juengerin des Herrn heranreift. Was aber dies Buch zu einem wahren Kleinod macht, das ish nicht die ueberaus wahre und tiefe Analyse jener menschlichen Suende, Suendenschwachheit und Eitelkeit, die sich auch in die froemmsten Regungen einuschleichen sucht, sondern die Angabe des wahren Heilmittels. Der goldne Faden naemlich, der sich durch das ganze Buch zieht, ist die Wahrheit; Nicht unser Rennen und Lanfen, sondern Sein Erbarmen! Nicht wir haben Ihn geliebt, sondern Er hat uns geliebt, und daran haben wir kindlich zu glauben. Sich Ihm an Sein Herz werfen mit all unsern Schwaechen, all unser Armuth—das wirkt—ja das ist Heilung.... Das Ganze ist im hoechsten Grade fesselnd. Man lebt sich unwillkuerlich in dies christliche Hauswesen mit ein, und glaubt in vielen Zuegen einen Spiegel des eigenen zu erkennen. [14]

The title-page of the French translation is as follows:

* * * * *


Auteur de La Fleur de la Famille, etc. Traduit de L'Anglais avec L'Autorization de L'Auteur. Lausanne: Georges Bridel, Editeur.

* * * * *

The following extract from a letter of Madame de Fressense, dated Paris, July 18, 1882, will show what impression the work made not only upon the gifted and accomplished writer, but upon many other of the most cultivated Christian women of France and Switzerland:

C'est un livre qui fait aimer celle qui y a mis son ame, une etude du coeur humain bien vraie et bien delicate. L'amour de Dieu deborde dans ses pages charmantes, dont la lecture rechauffe le coeur. Je crois qu'il a ete fort apprecie dans nos pays de langue francaise. Une personne dont toute la vie est un service de ceux qui souffrent me disait l'autre jour: "C'est mon livre, il m'a fait beaucoup de bien."

Le nombre d'editions qu'a atteint la traduction francaise teemoigne qu'il a eu du succes, et je suis sure que beaucoup de personnes ont prefere, avec raison, le lire dans l'original.

Je suis heureuse que vous m'avez donne l'occasion de le relire, et d'en eprouver de nouveau la bienfaisante influence....

Ce serait un vrai privilege de pouvoir faire connaitre a notre public francais cette femme aussi distinguee par le coeur que par l'esprit, que nous aimons tous.

14. Nidworth, and his three Magic Wands. 1869.

The three Magic Wands are: Riches, Knowledge, and Love; and in depicting their peculiar and wonderful virtues Mrs. Prentiss has wrought into the story with much skill her own theory of a happy life. She wrote the book with intense delight, and its strange, weird-like scenes and characters—the home in the forest; Dolman, the poor woodcutter; Cinda, his tall and strong-minded wife; Nidworth, their first-born; wandering Hidda, boding ill-luck; the hermit; these and all the rest—seemed to her, for a while, almost as real as if she had copied them from life.

Its publishers (Roberts Brothers) pronounced Nidworth "a gem" and were not a little surprised at its failure to strike the popular fancy. It certainly contains some of the author's brightest pictures of life and character.

15. The Percys. 1870.

This work was translated into French and German, and won warm praise in both languages. It is full of spirit, depicts real boys and girls and a loving Christian mother with equal skill, and abounds in the best lessons of domestic peace.

16. The Story Lizzie Told. 1870.

17. Six Little Princesses and what they turned into. 1871.

No one of Mrs. Prentiss' lesser works betrays a keener insight into character or a finer touch than this. Its aim is to illustrate the truth that all girls are endowed with their own individual talents; and to enforce the twofold lesson, that the diligent use of these talents, on the one hand, can furnish innocent pleasures beyond the reach of any outward position, however brilliant; and, on the other, is the best preparation for the day of adversity.

The closing sentences of the story will give an inkling of its aim and quality:

"I see how it is," said the Countess. "You must live together. Each feels herself incomplete without the others. Novella needs somebody to take care of her and somebody to love. In return, she will give love and endless entertainment. Reima, too, needs looking after, and some one will watch with a friendly eye the growth of her paintings. Our two musicians must not become one-sided by thinking only of melody and song. They must enjoy being clothed by Moina's kind hands, listening to Novella's poems, and discussing Reima's works. And you must train all your ears to appreciate the talents of these two marvellous creatures who sing and play with such rare, such exquisite harmony."

"And what shall I do?" cried Delicieuse.

"You shall do a little of everything, dear child. You shall help Moina to guide the house, and Reima to mix the colors. You shall take care that the piano is never out of tune, or Novella at a loss for pens and paper. In a word, you shall be what you always have been, always ready with the oil of gladness, wherever you see friction, the sweetest, the most lovable creature in the world."

Delicieuse smiled, and ran to embrace all her sisters, hardly knowing which she loved best.

It was not long before those royal maidens, royal only in their virtues and their talents, found themselves in a home in a vine-clad land, where each could live as Nature had designed she should live.

Moina, whose practical skill was not confined to her needle, kept the house with such exquisite care and neatness, that her sisters preferred it to a palace. She found happiness in forgetting herself, in her pride in them, and in the freedom from petty cares from which she shielded them. Her calm, serene character was a continual repose to the varying moods of Reima and Novella; a balance-wheel to works that, running fast, often ran irregularly. Reima studied the old masters with no need for further travel, for her home lay among their works.

Mosella and Papeta composed music, made Delicieuse listen to and admire it when other hearers were wanting, and were satisfied with her criticisms.

Novella wrote books, and had her frenzies. She had her gentle and her gay moods, also, and made laughter ring through the house at her will. Not one of these four was conscious of her powers, or asked for fame. Nor did their aristocratic breeding make them ashamed to work for their bread. They even fancied that bread thus won, needed less butter to help it down, than that of charity.

As to Delicieuse, she was the bright, the golden link that bound the household together in peace and harmony. Her smiles, her caresses, the love that flowed forth from her as from a living fountain, made their home glad with perpetual sunshine. Thank God for the gifts of genius He has scattered abroad with a bountiful hand; but thank Him also that, without such gifts, one may become a joy and a benediction!

18. Aunt Jane's Hero. 1871.

This work was at once republished in England and appeared also in a French version.

19. Golden Hours: Hymns and Songs of the Christian Life. 1873.

Several of the pieces in this volume had already appeared; among them "More Love to Thee, O Christ." This hymn has passed into most of the later collections. It was translated into Arabic, and is sung in the land once trodden by the blessed feet of Him whose name it adores, and throughout the East.

20. Urbane and His Friends. 1874.

This work was reprinted in England.

21. Griselda: A Dramatic Poem in Five Acts. Translated from the German of Friedrich Halm (Baron Muench-Bellinghausen). 1876.

Mrs. Prentiss supposed that hers was the first English version of this poem. But there is a translation by Sir R. A. Anstruther, which appeared in London as early as 1840 and in a new edition four years later. All attempts to obtain a copy of this translation in New York, or from London, have proved futile.

22. The Home at Greylock. 1876.

The following extract from a letter of the author of the French translation to Mrs. Prentiss deserves a place here:

MADAME,—Vous savez sans doute que, sans votre autorisation, une plume, bien hardie peut-etre, mais pleine de zele et de respect pour vous, s'est mise a traduire un de vos ouvrages, "The Home at Greylock." Sans votre autorisation! Etait-ce bien? etait-ce mal? Je me le suis demande plus d'une fois et je vous l'aurais demande, Madame, si j'avais su votre adresse assez tot.

L'editeur m'a mis la conscience a l'aise en m'assurant que le droit etait le meme pour tous, et que les auteurs americains ne pouvaient conceder de privilege a qui que ce fut. Forte de cette assurance, je me mis a l'oeuvre, mais j'avoue que j'eus besoin d'encouragements reiteres pour mener mon travail a bonne fin. Encore un mot d'explication, si vous le permittez, Madame. Je ne suis pas mere, mais je suis tante; j'ai vu naitre mes neveux et nieces, je les ai berces dans mes bras, j'ai veille sur leurs premiers pas, j'ai observe le developpement graduel de leur coeur et de leur intelligence, j'ai senti a fond combien l'oeuvre de l'education est serieuse et combien il importe d'etre discipline soi-meme par le Seigneur pour discipliner les petits confies a nos soins. Il n'est done pas etonnant que votre livre m'ait vivement interessee et que j'aie voulu le mettre a la portee d'un grand nombre. Cela eut ete fait tut ou tard par d'autres, je ne l'ignore point; mais j'avais envie d'essayer mes forces, et.... l'occasion a fait le larron. Ne seriez-vous pas ma complice, Madame?...

M'appuyant sur votre bienveillame et sur la fraternite qui unit les ames dans le Seigneur, je vous prie, Madame, de ne pas me considerer comme une etrangere et d'agreer l'expression de mon estime et mes voeux en Christ.

23. Pemaquid; a Story of Old Times in New England. 1877.

24. Gentleman Jim. 1878.

This little story was the last production of her pen and appeared a few days only after her death.

25. Avis Benson; or, Mine and Thine, with other Sketches. 1879.

This is a collection of pieces that had already appeared in the Chicago Advance and in the New York Observer. It met with a cordial welcome and has had a large circulation.

Some of the readers of Mrs. Prentiss' books may be glad to see a specimen of her handwriting. The following is a fac-simile of the closing part of a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipman, written at Dorset in 1867:

[1] B. J. Lossing, L.L.D., in the Christian Union of Oct. 15, 1879.

[2] B. J. Lossing in The Christian Union.

[3] Mr. Nathaniel Willis, then in his 76th year. He died at Boston, May 26, 1870, in the 90th year of his age.

[4] Sickness: its Trials and Blessings. A very wise and comforting book. She bequeathed it back to Mrs. Prentiss at her death.

[5] To aid in defending it against the "Border-Ruffians."

[6] Mrs. Prentiss was on her way to Europe. Before sailing she went to Williamstown to say good-bye to her sister, but the latter was too ill to see her. They never met again on earth.

[7] Referring to the family of Rev. Wm. James, D.D., of Albany.

[8] Sent from Genevrier.

[9] N. P. Willis.

[10] The Boston Recorder and The Youth's Companion.

[11] The late George Ripley, the eminent scholar and critic, is referred to. In a letter, dated New York, Nov. 20, 1879, Mr. Ripley writes:

"I beg you to accept, dear Dr. Prentiss, my most cordial thanks for your kindness in sending me the extract from Miss Payson's journal. I remember perfectly the visits of the young German enthusiast to my house in Boston and the great pleasure they always gave to my wife and myself. My acquaintance with her, I think, was through Mr. Tappan's family, of which your former parishioner and my dear friend and classmate, Thomas Denny, afterward became a member. With my infatuation for New England people and New England biography and genealogy and literary endeavor, it would give me great delight to be permitted to see Miss Payson's journal."

The journal was sent to Dr. Ripley and read by him with great pleasure. The incident led to the renewal of an old acquaintance and to repeated visits at his residence—one shortly before his death—which left upon the writer a strong impression of his deep interest in theological and religious truth, as well as of his genial temper and remarkable literary accomplishments.

[12] The late Rev. John Adams Albro, D.D., of Cambridge.

[13] Leonard Woods, Jr., D.D., then President of Bowdoin College.

[14] Allgemeiner literarischer Anzeiger fuer das evangelische Deutschland, Jan., 1873.


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