The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss
by George L. Prentiss
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April 26th.—Our patience is still tried by the cold, damp, and most unwholesome weather, which prevents the children from going to see anything. But we do not care so much for ourselves or for them as for poor Mr. Little, who is exceedingly feeble, chiefly confined to his room, and so forlorn in this strange, homeless land. While George was with him last evening, he had a bad fit of coughing, which resulted in the raising of a gill or so of blood. I know you will feel interested to hear about him, and will not wonder that our hearts are so full of sympathy for him and for his poor wife, that we can hardly talk of anything else. He expects her in about a week. What a coming to Europe for her! How little those who stand on the shore to watch the departure of a foreign steamer, know what they do when they envy its passengers!... We buckled on our armor and began sight-seeing the other day, going to see the Sainte Chapelle and the galleries and museum of the Louvre among the rest. The Sainte Chapelle is quite unlike anything I ever saw and delighted us extremely. As to the Louvre, one needs several entire days to do justice to it, besides an amount of youthful enthusiasm and bodily strength which we do not possess; for, amid midnight watchings over our sick children and the like, the oil of gladness has about burnt out, and we find sight-seeing a weary task.

May 25th.—It does seem as if George's preaching was listened to with more and more serious attention, and it may be seen long after he has rested from his labors on earth, that he has done a good work here. We both are much interested in Professor [6] Huntington's sermons, [7] sent us by Miss W. This is a great deal for me to say, because I do not like to read sermons. During the last three weeks, before Mr. and Mrs. Little left, we accomplished very little. It was not that we did or could do so very much for them, but they had nobody to depend on but us, and George was constantly going back and forth trying to make them comfortable, arranging all their affairs, etc. She had a weary, anxious two weeks here, and now has set her face homewards, not knowing but Mr. L. may sink before reaching America. It is a great comfort to us to have been able to soothe them somewhat as long as they stayed in Paris. George says it was worth coming here for that alone. I say we, but I mean George, for what was done he did. The most I could do was to feel dreadfully for them. [8]

We are now to begin sight-seeing again, and do all we can as speedily as possible, for only two weeks remain. The children are now pretty well. The baby is at that dangerous age when they are forever getting upon their feet and tumbling over backward on their heads. M. is the oddest little soul. Belle says she would rather go to a funeral than see all the shops in Paris, and, when they are out, she can hardly keep her from following every such procession they meet. I asked her the last time they went out if she had had a nice walk. She said not very nice, as she had only seen one pretty thing, and that was a police-officer taking a man to jail. The idea of going to England is very pleasant, and, if we only keep tolerably well, I think it will do us all good. What is dear mother doing about these times? I always think of her as sitting by the little work-table in her room, knitting and watching the children. Give lots of love and kisses to her, and tell her we long to see her face to face. Kiss all the children for us—I suppose they'll let you! boys and all—and you may do as much for Mr. S. if you want to. Good-bye.

On the 7th of June the family left Paris for London. A first visit to England—

That precious stone set in the silver sea—

is always an event full of interest to children of the New England Puritans. The "sceptered isle" is still in a sense their mother-country, and a thousand ancestral ties attract them to its shores. There is no other spot on earth where so many lines of their history, domestic and public, meet. And in London, what familiar memories are for them associated with almost every old street and lane and building!

The winter and spring of 1860 had been cold, wet and cheerless well-nigh beyond endurance; and the summer proved hardly less dreary. It rained nearly every day, sometimes all day and all night; the sun came out only at long intervals, and then often but for a moment; the atmosphere, much of the time, was like lead; the moon and stars seemed to have left the sky; even the English landscape, in spite of its matchless verdure and beauty, put on a forbidding aspect. All nature, indeed, was under a cloud. This, added to her frail health, made the summer a very trying one to Mrs. Prentiss, and yet it afforded her not a little real delight. Some of her pleasantest days in Europe were spent in England. The following extracts are from a little journal kept by her in London:

June 10th.—We went this morning to hear Dr. Hamilton, and were greatly edified by the sermon, which was on the text: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." In the afternoon we decided to go to Westminster Abbey. It began to rain soon after we got out, and we had a two miles' walk through the mud. The old abbey looked as much like its picture as it could, but pictures can not give a true idea of the grandeur of such a building. We were a little late, and every seat was full and many were standing, as we had to do through the whole service. The sermon struck me as a very ordinary affair, though it was delivered by a lord. But the music was so sweet, performed for aught I know by angel—for the choir was invisible—and we stood surrounded by such monuments and covered by such a roof, that we were not quite throwing away our time. Albert B—— dined with us, and in the evening, with one accord, we went to hear Dr. Hamilton again. We had good seats and heard a most beautiful as well as edifying discourse on the first verses of the 103d Psalm. Some of the images were very fine, and the whole tone of the sermon was moderate, sensible, and serious. I use these words advisedly, for I had an impression that he was a flowery, popular man whom I should not relish. At the close of the service a little prayer-meeting of half an hour was held, and we came home satisfied with our first English Sunday, feeling some of our restless cravings already quieted as only contact with God's own people could quiet them.

11th.—Went to see the Crystal Palace. It proved a fine day, and we took M. with us. None of us felt quite well, but we enjoyed this new and beautiful scene for all that. It is a little fairy land.

14th.—Went to Westminster Abbey, and spent some time there. On coming out we made a rapid, but quite amusing passage through several courts where we saw numerous great personages in stiff little gray wigs. To my untrained, irreverent eyes they all looked perfectly funny. George was greatly interested and edified. It has been raining and shining by turns all day, and is this evening very cold.

15th.—Another of those days which the English so euphoniously term "nasty." Not knowing what else to do with it, we set off in search of No. 5 Sermon Lane, a house connected with a stereoscopic establishment in Paris, which we reached after many evolutions and convolutions, and found it to be a wholesale concern only. Pitying us for the trouble we had been at in seeking them, they let us have what views we wanted, but at higher prices than they sell them at Paris. We then went to the Tract House, and while selecting French and other tracts, a gentleman came and asked for a quantity of the "Last Hours of Dr. Payson."

16th.—Went to the Tower, and had a most interesting visit there. We were particularly struck by some spots shown us by one of the wardens, after the regular round had been gone through with, and the other visitors dispersed—namely, the cell where prisoners were confined with thumbscrews attached to elicit confession, and the floor where Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned. We looked from the window where she saw her husband carried to execution, and A. was locked up in the room so as to be able to say she had been a prisoner in the Tower.

17th.—Heard Dr. Hamilton again. Met Dr. and Mrs. Adams of New York there, and had a most kind and cordial greeting from them. Dr. A. introduced us to Dr. Hamilton. In the evening we went to hear Dr. Adams at Dr. H.'s church, and came home quite proud of our countryman, who gave us a most excellent sermon. At the close of the service Dr. H. invited us to take tea with him next week, and introduced us to his wife; a young, quiet little lady, looking as unlike most of us American parsonesses as possible, her parochial cares being, perhaps, less weighty than ours.

18th.—Two things made this day open pleasantly. One was a decided attempt on the part of the sun to come out and shine. The second was Dr. Adams' dropping in and taking breakfast with us. We also got letters from home, and the news that Mr. Little had reached New York in safety. After lunch, George went off in glory to the House of Commons, hinting that he might stay there till to-morrow morning, and begging for a night-key to let himself in. The rest of us went to the Zoological Garden, which is much more ample and interesting than the Jardin des Plantes.

20th.—Yesterday it poured in torrents all day, so that going out was not possible. To-day we went out in the drops and between the drops, to do a little shopping in the way of razors, scissors, knives, needles, and such like sharp and pointed things. We stepped into Nesbit's and took a view of Little Susy, who looked as usual, bought a few books, subscribed to a library, coveted our neighbor's property, and came home covered with mud and mire.

22d.—Went out to Barnet to call on Miss Bird. On reaching the station, we found Miss B. awaiting us with phaeton and pony. We were driven over a pretty three miles route to "Hurst Cottage," where we were introduced to Mrs. Bird and a younger daughter, and I had a nice little lunch, together with pleasant chat about America in general and E. L. S. in particular. Miss Bird said she showed her likeness to a gentleman, who is a great physiognomist, and asked his opinion of her. He replied, "She is a genius, a poetess, a Christian, and a true wife and mother." We then went up-stairs, and looked at Miss B.'s little study, after which she took us to see the church in Hadley, a very old building dating back to 1494. It has been repaired and restored and is a beautiful little church. On leaving it Miss Bird came with us a part of the way to the station and we got home in good season for dinner. The weather, true to its rule, could not last fine, and so this evening it is raining again. [9]

24th.—No rain all day! Can it be true? George went in the morning to hear Mr. Binney, and A. and I to Dr. Hamilton's, who preached a very good sermon on a favorite text of mine, "I beseech Thee show me Thy glory." In the evening Dr. Patton, of New York, induced us to go with himself and wife to a meeting at a theatre three miles off. The Rev. Mr. Graham preached. It was an interesting, but touching and saddening sight to look upon the congregation; to wonder why they came, and whether they would come again, and whether under those stolid and hardened faces there yet lay humanity. Many came with babies in their arms, who made themselves very much at home; some were in dirty week-day clothes; "some in rags and some in jags." Coming home we passed the spot where John Rogers was burned, and that where in time of the plague dead bodies were thrown in frightful heaps into one grave.

25th.—We took tea at Dr. Hamilton's, where we had a very pleasant evening, meeting Dr. and Mrs. Adams, as well as all Dr. H.'s session. Dr. H. strikes one most agreeably, and seems as genial and as full of life as a boy.

26th.—Visited Windsor Castle with Dr. Adams and his party, ten of us in all. We drove afterward to see the country church-yard, where Grey wrote his elegy and where he now lies buried. This was a most charming little trip and we all enjoyed it exceedingly. The young folks gathered leaves and flowers for their books.

29th.—Last evening we had a nice time and a cup of tea with the Adamses. To-day—another nasty day—they lunched with us, which broke up its gloom and we went with them to see Sloan's museum, a most interesting collection. We all enjoyed its novelty as well as its beauty.

She also records the pleasure with which she visited the National Gallery, Madame Tussaud's Collection, the British Museum, Richmond, the Kew Gardens, and Bunhill Fields Burying-Ground, and, in particular, the grave of "Mr. John Bunyan."

Not long before leaving London she attended a Sunday evening service for the people in Westminster Abbey, which interested her deeply. It suggested—or rather was the original of—the scene in The Story Lizzie Told:

When we first got into that grand place, I was scared, and thought they would drive us poor folks out. But when I looked round, most everybody was poor too. At last I saw some of them get down on their knees, and some shut their eyes, and some took off their hats and held them over their faces. Father couldn't, because he had me in his arms; and so I took it off, and held it for him.

"What's it for?" says I.

"Hush," says father, "the parson's praying."

When I showed IT to God, the room seemed full of Him. But that's a small room. The church is a million and a billion times as big, isn't it, ma'am? But when the minister prayed, that big church seemed just as full as it could hold. Then, all of a sudden, they burst out a-singing. Father showed me the card with large letters on it, and says he, "Sing, Lizzie, Sing!"

And so I did. It was the first time in my life. The hymn said,

Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly,

and I whispered to father, "Is Jesus God?" "Yes, yes," said he, "Sing, Lizzie, sing!"

After the praying and the singing, came the preaching, I heard every word. It was a beautiful story. It told how sorry Jesus was for us when we did wrong, bad things, and how glad He was when we were good and happy. It said we must tell Him all our troubles and all our joys, and feel sure that He knew just how to pity us, because He had been a poor man three and thirty years, on purpose to see how it seemed.

The most stirring sight by far which she witnessed while in London, was a review of 20,000 volunteers by the Queen in Hyde Park, on the 23d of June. She waited for it several hours, standing much of the time upon a camp-stool. As her Majesty appeared, accompanied by Prince Albert, the curiosity of the immense crowd "rose to such a pitch that every conceivable method was resorted to, to catch a glimpse of the field. Men climbed on each other's shoulders, gave 'fabulous prices' for chairs, boxes, and baskets, raised their wives and sweethearts high in the air, and so by degrees our view was quite obstructed." [10] The scene did not, perhaps, in numbers or in the brilliant array of fashion, rank, and beauty surpass, nor in military pomp and circumstance did it equal, a grand review she had witnessed not long before in the Champ de Mars; but in other respects it was far more impressive. Among the volunteers were thousands of young men in whose veins ran the best and most precious blood in England. And then to an American wife and mother, Queen Victoria was a million times more interesting than Louis Napoleon. She stood then, as happily she still stands, at the head of the Christian womanhood of the world; and that in virtue not solely of her exalted position and influence, but of her rare personal and domestic virtues as well. She was then also at the very height of her felicity. How little she or any one else in that thronging multitude dreamed, that before the close of the coming year the form of the noble Prince, who rode by her side wearing an aspect of such manly beauty and content, and who was so worthy to be her husband, would lie mouldering in the grave! [11]

About the middle of July Mrs. Prentiss with her husband and children left London for Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, where, in spite of cold and rainy weather, she passed two happy months. With the exception of Chateau d'Oex, no place in Europe had proved to her such a haven of rest. Miss Scott, the hostess, was kindness itself. The Isle of Wight in summer is a little paradise; and in the vicinity of Ventnor are some of its loveliest scenes. Her enjoyment was enhanced by the society of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Abbott, who were then sojourning there. An excursion taken with Mr. Abbott was doubly attractive; for, as might be inferred from his books, he was one of the most genial and instructive of companions, whether for young or old. A pilgrimage to the home and grave of the Dairyman's Daughter and to the grave of "Little Jane," and a day and night at Alum Bay, were among the pleasantest incidents of the summer at Ventnor.

Of the visit to "Little Jane's" grave she gives the following account in her journal:

Aug. 10th.—To-day being unusually fine, we undertook our long-talked-of expedition to Brading. On reaching the churchyard we asked a little boy who followed us in if he could point out "Little Jane's" grave; he said he could and led us at once to the spot. How little she dreamed that pilgrimages would be made to her grave! Our pigmy guide next conducted us to the grave-stones, where her task was learned. "How old are you, little fellow?" I asked. "Getting an to five," he replied. "And does everybody who comes here give you something?" "Some don't." "That's very naughty of them," I continued; "after all your trouble they ought to give you something." A shrewd smile was his answer, and George then gave him some pennies. "What do you do with your pennies?" I asked. "I puts them in my pocket." "And then what do you do?" "I saves them up." "And what then?" "My mother buys shoe's when I get enough. She is going to buy me some soon with nails in them! These are dropping to pieces" (no such thing). "If that is the case," quoth George, "I think I must give you some more pennies." "Thank you," said the boy. "Do you see my sword?" George then asked him if he went to church and to Sunday-school. "Oh, yes, and there was an organ, and they learned to sing psalms." "And to love God?" asked George. "Yes, yes," he answered, but not with much unction, and so we turned about and came home.

To Mrs. Stearns, Ventnor, Aug. 24, 1860.

As this is to be our last letter home, it ought to be a very brilliant one, but I am sure it won't; and when I look back over the past two years and think how many stupid ones I have written you, I feel almost ashamed of myself. But on the other hand I wonder I have written no duller ones, for our staying so long at a time in one place has given small chance for variety and description. It is raining and blowing at a rate that you, who are roasting at home, can hardly conceive; we agreed yesterday that if you were blindfolded and suddenly set down here and told to guess what season of the year it was, you would judge by your feelings and the wind roaring down the chimney, that it was December. However disagreeable this may be it is more invigorating than hot weather, and George and the children have all improved very much. George enjoys bathing and climbing the "downs" and the children are out nearly all day when it does not rain. You may remember that the twilight is late in England, and even the baby is often out till half-past eight or nine.... I just keep my head above water by having no cares or fatigue at night. I feel dreadfully that I am so helpless a creature, but I believe God keeps me so for my mortification and improvement, and that I ought to be willing to lead this good-for-nothing life if He chooses. We have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Abbott here. They have gone now to spend the winter in Paris. Mrs. A. sent her love to you again and again, and I was very glad to meet her for your sake as well as her own, and to know Mr. A. better than I did before, and it was very pleasant to George to chat with him. We walked together to see Shanklin Chine. A. went with us, and Mr. Abbott amused her so on the way that she came home quite dissatisfied with her stupid papa and mamma.

We are talking of little else now but getting home, and it is a pity you could not take down the walls of our hidden souls and see the various wishes and feelings we have on the subject. I forgot to say how glad we were that you found George Prentiss such a nice boy. [12] I always loved him for Abby's sake and he certainly was worthy of the affection she felt for him as the most engaging child I ever knew; he is a thorough Prentiss still, it seems. What is he going to be? You must feel queer to have a boy in college; it is like a strange dream. Our boys are two spunky little toads who need, or will need, all our energies to bring up. I have quite got my hand out, M. is so good—and hate to begin. But good-bye, with love to mother, Mr. S. and the children.

The family embarked at Cowes on the magnificent steamship "Adriatic," September 13th, and, after a rough voyage, reached New York on the 24th of the same month. Old friends awaited their coming and welcomed them home again with open arms. It was a happy day for Mrs. Prentiss, and in the abundance of its joy she forgot the anxious and solitary months through which she had just been passing. She came back with four children instead of three; her husband was, partially at least, restored to health; and she breathed once more her native air.

[1] A most faithful servant, to whom Mrs. P. was greatly attached.

[2] The Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, was one of the most honored members of the Mercer street church. He was known throughout the country as an eminent lawyer and patriotic citizen. In the circle of his friends he was admired and beloved for his singular purity of character, his scholarly tastes, the kindness of his heart, and all the other fine qualities that go to form the Christian gentleman. During a portion of President Jackson's administration Mr. Butler was Attorney-General of the United States. He died in the sixty-third year of his age.

[3] Referring to the death of Dr. Stearns' mother, Mrs. Abigail Stearns, of Bedford, Mass.

[4] Mrs. Wainwright and her husband, the late Eli Wainwright, were members of the old Mercer street Presbyterian church, and both of them unwearied in their kindness to Mrs. Prentiss and her husband.


"Far along, From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,

Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud, But every mountain now hath found a tongue,

And Jura answers, through her misty shroud, Back to the joyous Alps, which call to her aloud!"

[6] Now Bishop of the P. E. Church of Central New York.

[7] "Christian Believing and Living."

[8] The Rev. George B. Little was born in Castine, Maine, December 21, 1821. He was graduated at Bowdoin College in 1843. Having studied theology at Andover, he was ordained in 1849 pastor of the First Congregational church in Bangor, Me. In 1850 he married Sarah Edwards, daughter of that admirable and whole-souled servant of Christ, the Rev. Elias Cornelius, D.D. In November, 1857, Mr. Little was installed as pastor of the Congregational church in West Newton, Mass. Early in March, 1860, he went abroad for his health, but returned home again in May, and died among his own people, July 20, 1860. The last words he littered were, "I shall soon be with Christ." Mr. Little was a man of superior gifts, full of scholarly enthusiasm, and devoted to his Master's work.

[9] Miss Bird is known to the world by her remarkable books of travel in Japan and elsewhere.

[10] An account of the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park is given in Sir Theodore Martin's admirable Life of the Prince Consort, Vol. V., pp. 105-6, Am. Ed. The Prince himself, in responding to a toast the same evening, speaks of it as "a scene which will never fade from the memory of those who had the good fortune to be present."

[11] It is hardly possible to allude to the great affliction of this illustrious lady without thinking also of the persistent acts of womanly sympathy by which, during the anguish and suspense of the past two months, she has tried to minister comfort to the stricken wife of our suffering and now sainted President. Certainly, the whole case is unique in the history of the world. By this most tender and Christ-like sympathy, she has endeared herself in a wonderful manner to the heart of the American people. God bless Queen Victoria! they say with one voice.—New York, September 24, 1881.

[12] The eldest son of her brother-in-law, Mr. S. S. Prentiss, a youth of rare promise, and who had especially endeared himself to his Aunt Abby. He died of fever at Tallahoma, Tennessee, during the war.





At Home again in New York. The Church of the Covenant. Increasing Ill-health. The Summer of 1861. Death of Louisa Payson Hopkins. Extracts from her Journal. Summer of 1862. Letters. Despondency.

We come now to a new phase of Mrs. Prentiss' experience as a pastor's wife. Before her husband resigned his New York charge, during the winter of 1857-8, the question of holding a service in the upper part of the city, with the view to another congregation, was earnestly discussed in the session and among the leading members of the church, but nothing then came of it. Soon after his return from Europe, however, the project was revived, and resulted at length in the formation of the Church of the Covenant. In consequence of the great civil war, which was then raging, the undertaking encountered difficulties so formidable, that nothing but extraordinary zeal, liberality, and wise counsel on the part of his friends and the friends of the movement could overcome them. For two or three years the new congregation held service in what was then called Dodworth's Studio Building at the corner of Fifth avenue and Twenty-sixth street, but in 1864 it entered the chapel on Thirty-fifth street, and in 1865 occupied the stately edifice on Park avenue. In the manifold labors, trials, and discouragements connected with this work, Mrs. Prentiss shared with her husband; and, when finally crowned with the happiest success, it owed perhaps as much to her as to him. This brief statement seems needful in order to define and render clear her position, as a pastor's wife, during the next twelve years.

After spending some weeks in Newark and Portland, she found herself once more in New York in a home of her own and surrounded by friends, both old and new. The records of the following four or five years are somewhat meagre and furnish few incidents of special significance. The war, with its terrible excitement and anxieties, absorbed all minds and left little spare time for thought or feeling about anything else. Domestic and personal interests were entirely overshadowed by the one supreme interest of the hour—that of the imperiled National life. It was for Mrs. Prentiss a period also of almost continuous ill-health. The sleeplessness from which she had already suffered so much assumed more and more a chronic character, and, aggravated by other ailments and by the frequent illness of her younger children, so undermined her strength, that life became at times a heavy burden. She felt often that her days of usefulness were past. But the Master had yet a great work for her to do, and—

In ways various, Or, might I say, contrarious—

He was training her for it during these years of bodily infirmity and suffering.

The summer of 1861 was passed at Newport. In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated July 28th, she writes:

We find the Cliff House delightful, within a few minutes' walk of the sea, which we have in full view from one of our windows. And we have no lack of society, for the Bancrofts, Miss Aspinwall and her sister, as well as the Skinners, are very friendly. But I am so careworn and out of sorts, that this beautiful ocean gives me little comfort. I seem to be all the time toting one child or another about, or giving somebody paregoric or rhubarb, or putting somebody to sleep, or scolding somebody for waking up papa, who is miserable, and his oration untouched. There, don't mind me; it's at the end of a churchless Sunday, and I dare say I am "only peevis'," as the little boy said.

But in a few weeks the children were well again and her own health so much improved, that she was able to indulge in surf-bathing, which she "enjoyed tremendously," and early in the fall the whole family returned to town greatly refreshed by the summer's rest.

On the 24th of January, 1862, her sister, Mrs. Hopkins, died. This event touched her deeply. She hurried off to Williamstown, whence she wrote to her husband, who was unable to accompany her:

If you had known that I should not get here till half-past nine last night, and that in an open sleigh from North Adams, you would not have let me come. But so far I am none the worse for it; and, when I came in and found the Professor and T. and Eddy sitting here all alone and so forlorn in their unaccustomed leisure, I could not be thankful enough that a kind Providence had allowed me to come. It is a very great gratification to them all, especially to the Professor, and even more so than I had anticipated. In view of the danger of being blocked up by another snow-storm, I shall probably think it best to return by another route, which they all say is the best. I hope you and my precious children keep well.

No picture of Mrs. Prentiss' life would be complete, in which her sister's influence was not distinctly visible. To this influence she owed the best part of her earlier intellectual training; and it did much to mould her whole character. Mrs. Hopkins was one of the most learned, as well as most gifted, women of her day; and had not ill-health early disabled her for literary labors, she might, perhaps, have won for herself an enduring name in the literature of the country. There were striking points of resemblance between her and Sara Coleridge; the same early intellectual bloom; the same rare union of feminine delicacy and sensibility with masculine strength and breadth of understanding; the same taste for the beautiful in poetry, in art, and in nature, joined to similar fondness for metaphysical studies; the same delight in books of devotion and in books of theology; and the same varied erudition. Only one of them seems to have been an accomplished Hebraist, but both were good Latin and Greek scholars; and both were familiar with Italian, Spanish, French, and German. Even in Sara Coleridge's admiration and reverence for her father, Mrs. Hopkins was in full sympathy with her. She lacked, indeed, that poetic fancy which belonged to the author of "Phantasmion;" nor did she possess her mental self-poise and firmness of will; but in other respects, even in physical organization and certain features of countenance, they were singularly alike. And they both died in the fiftieth year of their age.

Louisa Payson was born at Portland, February 24, 1812. Even as a child she was the object of tender interest to her father on account of her remarkable intellectual promise. He took the utmost pains to aid and encourage her in learning to study and to think. The impression he made upon her may be seen in the popular little volume entitled "The Pastor's Daughter," which consists largely of conversations with him, written out from memory after his death. She was then in her sixteenth year. The records of the next eight years, which were mostly spent in teaching, are very meagre; but a sort of literary journal, kept by her between 1835 and 1840, shows something of her mental quality and character, as also of her course of reading. She was twenty-three years old when the journal opens. Here are a few extracts from it:

BOSTON, Nov. 18, 1835.

Last evening I passed in company with Mr. Dana. [1] I conversed with him only for a few moments about Mr. Alcott's school, and had not time to ask one of the ten thousand questions I wished to ask. I have been trying to analyse the feeling I have for men of genius, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Dana, for example. I can understand why I feel for them unbounded admiration, reverence and affection, but I hardly know why there should be so much excitement—painful excitement—mingled with these emotions. Next to possessing genius myself would be the pleasure of living with one who possessed it.

Nov. 19th.—I have read to-day one canto of Dante's Inferno and eight or ten pages of Cicero de Amicitia. In this, as well as in de Senectute which I have just finished, I am much interested. I confess I am not a little surprised to find how largely the moderns are indebted to the ancients; how many wise observations on life, and death, the soul, time, eternity, etc, have been repeated by the sages of every generation since the days of Cicero.

Jan. 14th, 1836.—I spent last evening with Mr. Dana, and the conversation was, of course, of great interest. We talked of some of the leading Reviews of the day, and then of the character of our literature as connected with our political institutions. This led to a long discussion of the latter subject, but as the same views are expressed in Mr. D.'s article on Law, I shall pass it over. [2] I differed from him in regard to the French comedies, especially those of Moliere; however, he allowed that they contain genuine humor, but they are confined to the exhibition of one ridiculous point in the character, instead of giving us the whole man as Shakespeare does.

Sept, 22d.—This morning I have had one of the periods of insight, when the highest spiritual truths pertaining to the divine and human natures, become their own light and evidence, as well as the evidence of other truths. No speculations, no ridicule can shake my faith in that which I thus see and feel. I was particularly interested in thinking of the regeneration of the spirit and the part which Faith, Hope, and Love, have in effecting it.

Sab. 23d.—It seems to me that this truth alone, there is a God, is sufficient, rightly believed, to make every human being absolutely and perfectly happy.

Jan. 14th, 1839.—Wednesday evening attended Mr. Emerson's lecture on Genius, of which I shall attempt to say nothing except that it was most delightful. Thursday morning Mr. Emerson [3] called to see me and gave me a ticket for his course. Afterwards Mr. Dana called. It seems to me that I have lived backwards; in other words, the faculties of my mind which were earliest developed, were those which in other minds come last—reflection and solidity of judgment; while fancy and imagination, in so far as I have any at all, have followed.

Sat. Jan. 26th.—My occupations in the way of books at present, consist in reading "Antigone," Guizot's "History," Lockhart's "Scott," and sundries. I am also translating large extracts from Claudius, with a view to writing an article about him, if the fates shall so will it. [4]

Thurs. Jan. 1st.—Mr. Emerson's lecture last night was on Comedy. He professed to enter on the subject with reluctance, as conscious of a deficiency in the organ of the ludicrous—a profession, however, that was not substantiated very well by the lecture itself, which convulsed the audience with laughter. He spoke in the commencement of the silent history written in the faces of an assembly, making them as interesting to a spectator as if their lives were written in their features.

25th.—I began yesterday Schleiermacher's "Christliche Glaube"—a profound, learned, and difficult work, I am told—Jouffroy's "Philosophical Writings," Landor's "Pericles and Aspasia," and "The Gurney Papers." Considering that I was already in the midst of several books, this is rather too much, but I could not help it; the books were lent me and must be read and returned speedily. I have been all the morning employed in writing an abstract of the Report of the Prison Discipline Society, and am wearied and stupefied.

Jan. 7th, 1840.—Went to Mr. Ripley's where I met Dr. Channing, and listened to a discussion of Spinoza's religious opinions. This afternoon Mr. D. came again; talked about the Trinity and other theological points. This evening, heard Prof. Silliman. I have nearly finished Fichte, and like him on the whole exceedingly, though I think he errs in placing the roots of the speculative in the practical reason. It seems to me that neither grows out of the other, but that they are coincident spheres. Still, there is a truth, a great truth, in what he says. It is true that action is often the most effectual remedy against speculative doubts and perplexities. When you are in the dark about this or that point, ask what command does conscience impose upon me at this moment—obey it and you will find light.

These extracts will suffice to show the quality and extent of her reading. What sort of fruit her reading and study bore may be seen by her articles on Claudius and Goethe, in the New York Review. No abler discussion of the genius and writings of Goethe had at that time appeared in this country; while the article on Claudius was probably the first to make him known to American readers.

During many of the later years of her life Mrs. Hopkins was a martyr to ill-health. The story of her sufferings, both physical and mental, as artlessly told in little diaries which she kept, is "wondrous pitiful;" no pen of fiction could equal its simple pathos. Again and again, as she herself knew, she was on the very verge of insanity; nothing, probably, saving her from it but the devotion of her husband, who with untiring patience and a mother's tenderness ministered, in season and out of season, to her relief. Often would he steal home from his beloved Observatory, where he had been teaching his students how to watch the stars, and pass a sleepless night at her bedside, reading to her and by all sorts of gentle appliances trying to soothe her irritated nerves. And this devotion ran on, without variableness or shadow of turning, year after year, giving itself no rest until her eyes were closed in death. [5]

Let us now resume our narrative. A portion of the summer of 1862 was passed by Mrs. Prentiss at Newport. Her season of rest was again invaded by severe illness among her children. Under date of August 3d, she writes to Mrs. Smith:

I can see that our landlady, who has good sense and experience, thinks G. will not get well. Sometimes, in awful moments, I think so too; but then I cheer up and get quite elated. Last night as I lay awake, too weary to sleep, I heard a harsh, rasping sound like a large saw. I thought some animal unknown to me must be making it, it was so regular and frequent. But after a time I found it was a dying young soldier who lives farther from this house than Miss H. does from our house in New York. His fearful cough! Oh, this war! this war! I never hated and revolted against it as I did then. I had heard some one say such a young man lay dying of consumption in this street, but till then was too absorbed with my own incessant cares to hear the cough, as the rest had done. I never realised how I felt about our country till I found the terror of losing, a link out of that little golden chain that encircles my sweetest joys, was a kindred suffering. Have the times ever looked so black as they do now? We seem to be drifting round without chart or pilot.

Two weeks later, August 17th, she writes to her cousin, Miss Shipman:

G. is really up and about, looking thin and white, and feeling hungry and weak; but little H. has been sick with the same disease these ten days past. I got your letter and the little cat, for which G. and I thank you very much. I should think it would about kill you to cook all day even for our soldiers, but on the whole can not blame any one who wants to get killed in their service. I am impressed more and more with their claims upon us, who confront every danger and undergo every suffering, while we sit at home at our ease. However, the ease I have enjoyed during the last five weeks has not been of a very luxurious kind, and I have felt almost discouraged, as day after day of confinement and night after night of sleeplessness has pulled down my strength. But, what am I doing? Complaining, instead of rejoicing that I am not left unchastised.

After a careworn summer at Newport, she went with the children to Williamstown, where a month was passed with her brother-in-law, Professor Hopkins. The following letters relate to this visit:

To her Husband, Williamstown, Sept. 19, 1862.

I am glad to find that you place reliance on the reports of our late victory, for I have been in great suspense, seeing only The World, which was throwing up its hat and declaring the war virtually ended. I have no faith in such premature assertions, of which we have had so many, but was most anxious to know your opinion. Do not fail to keep me informed of what is going on. The children are all out of doors and enjoying themselves. The Professor has gone on horseback to see about his buckwheat. He took me up there yesterday afternoon, and I crawled through forty fences (more or less) and got a vast amount of exercise, which did not result in any better sleep, however, than no exercise does. Caro. H. read me yesterday a most interesting letter from her brother Henry, describing the scene at Bull Run when he went there five days after the battle. It is very painful to find such mismanagement as he deplores. He gave a most touching account of a young fellow who lay mortally wounded, where he had lain uncared-for with his companions the five days, and whom they were obliged to decline removing, as they had only room for a portion of the hopeful cases. After beseeching Mr. H. to see that he was removed, and entreating to know when and how he was ever to get home if they left him, he was told that it was not possible to make room for him in this train of ambulances. As Mr. H. tore himself away, he heard him say,

"Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'Tis all that I can do."

The torture of the wounded men in the ambulances was so frightful, that Mr. H. gave each of them morphine enough to kill three well men. They "cried for it like dogs and licked my hands lest they should lose a drop," he adds. As a contrast to this letter, some of the new recruits came into the Professor's grounds yesterday to get bouquets, and thought if their folks had a "yard" so gayly decked with flowers they would feel set up.

To Mrs. Smith, Williamstown, Sept. 25, 1862.

I have been feeling languid, or lazy, ever since I came here, and for a few days past have been miserable; but I am better to-day. This place is perfectly lovely and grows upon me every day. But the Professor is entirely absorbed in his loss. He does not know it, or else thinks he does not show it, for he makes no complaint, but it is in every tone and word and look. It is plain that Louisa's ill-health, which might have weaned a selfish man from her, only endeared her to him; she was so entirely his object day and night, that he misses her and the care of her, as a mother does her sick child. If we ride out he says, "Here I often came with her;" if a bird sings, "That is a note she used to love;" if we see a flower, "That is one of the flowers she loved." He has an astonishing amount of journal manuscripts, and I think may in time prepare something from them.... Isn't it frightful how cotton goods have run up! I gave twenty cents for a yard of silicia (is that the way to spell it?) and suppose everything else has rushed up too. I hope you are prepared to tell me exactly what to buy and instruct me in the way I should go.

To her Husband, Williamstown, Sept. 26.

I spent yesterday forenoon looking over Louisa's papers and found an enormous mass of manuscript; journals, extract books, translations, and work enough planned and begun for many lifetimes. It was very depressing. One's only refuge is faith in God, and in the certainty that her lingering illness was more acceptable to Him than years of active usefulness, and such extraordinary usefulness even as she was so fitted for. I read over some of my own letters written many, many years ago; and the sense this gave me of lost youth and vivacity and energy, was, for a time, most painful.... I have felt for a long while greatly discouraged and depressed, yes, weary of my life, because it seems to me that broken down and worn out as I am, and full of faults under which I groan, being burdened, I could not make you happy. But your last letter comforted me a good deal. I see little for us to do but what you suggest: to cheer each other up and wear out rather than rust out. It is more and more clear to me, that patience is our chief duty on earth, and that we can not rest here.

I am anxious to know what you think of the President's Proclamation. [6] The Professor likes it. He seems able to think of little but his loss. Even when speaking in the most cheerful way, tears fill his eyes, and the other day putting a letter into my hands to read, he had to run out of the room. The letter stated that fifty young persons owed their conversion to Louisa's books; it was written some years ago. His mother spent Saturday here. She is very bright and cheerful and full of sly humor; he did everything to amuse her and she enjoyed her visit amazingly. I long to see you. Letters are more and more unsatisfactory, delusive things. M. is going to have a "party" this afternoon, and is going to one this forenoon. The others are bright and busy as bees. Good-bye.

A tinge of sadness is perceptible in most of her letters during this year. Her sister's death, the fearful state of the country, protracted sickness among her children, and her own frequent ill-turns and increasing sense of feebleness, all conspired to produce this effect. But in truth her heart was still as young as ever and a touch of sympathy, or an appeal to her love of nature, instantly made it manifest. An extract from a letter to Miss Anna Warner, dated New York, December 16th, may serve as an instance: I wanted to write a book when the trunk came this afternoon; that is, a book full of thanks and exclamation marks. You could not have bought with money anything for my Christmas present, that could give half the pleasure. I shut myself up in my little room up-stairs (I declare I don't believe you saw that room! did you?), and there I spread out my mosses and my twigs and my cones and my leaves and admired them till I had to go out and walk to compose myself. Then the children came home and they all admired too, and among us we upset my big work-basket and my little work-basket, and didn't any of us care. My only fear is that with all you had to do you did too much for me. Those little red moss cups are too lovely! and as to all those leaves how I shall leaf out! G. asked me who sent me all those beautiful things. "Miss Warner," quoth I absently. "Didn't Miss Anna send any of them?" he exclaimed. So you see you twain do not pass as one flesh here. I have read all the "Books of Blessing" [7] save Gertrude and her Cat—but though I like them all very much, my favorite is still "The Prince in Disguise." If you come across a little book called "Earnest," [8] published by Randolph, do read it. It is one of the few real books and ought to do good. I have outdone myself in picture-frames since you left. I got a pair of nippers and some wire, which were of great use in the operation. I am now busy on Mr. Bull, for Mr. Prentiss' study.

To one of her sisters-in-law she wrote, under the same date:

I do not know as I ever was so discouraged about my health as I have been this fall. Sometimes I think my constitution is quite broken down, and that I never shall be good for anything again. However, I do not worry one way or the other but try to be as patient as I can. I have been a good deal better for some days, and if you could see our house you would not believe a word about my not being well, and would know my saying so was all a sham. To tell the truth, it does look like a garden, and when I am sick I like to lie and look at what I did when I wasn't; my wreaths, and my crosses, and my vines, and my toadstools, and other fixins. Yesterday I made a bonnet of which I am justly proud; to-morrow I expect to go into mosses and twigs, of which Miss Anna Warner has just sent me a lot. She and her sister were here about a fortnight. They grow good so fast that there is no keeping track of them. Does any body in Portland take their paper? [9] The children are all looking forward to Christmas with great glee. It is a mercy there are any children to keep up one's spirits in these times. Was there ever anything so dreadful as the way in which our army has just been driven back! [10] But if we had had a brilliant victory perhaps the people would have clamored against the emancipation project, and anything is better than the perpetuation of slavery.

Our congregation is fuller than ever, but there is no chance of building even a chapel. Shopping is pleasant business now-a-days, isn't it? We shall have to stop sewing and use pins.

* * * * *


Another care-worn Summer. Letters from Williamstown and Rockaway. Hymn on Laying the Corner-stone of the Church of the Covenant.

The records of 1863 are confined mostly to her letters written during the summer. In June she went again with the younger children to Williamstown, where she remained a month. The family then proceeded to Rockaway, Long Island, and spent the rest of the season there in a cottage, kindly placed at their disposal by Mrs. William G. Bull. They passed through New York barely in time to escape the terrible riots, which raged there with such fury in the early part of July. A few extracts from her letters belonging to this period follow:

To her Husband, Troy, June 10.

I hope you'll not be frightened to get a letter mailed here; anyhow I can't resist the temptation to write, though standing up in a little newspaper office. We were routed up at half past five this morning by pounds and yells about taking the "Northern Railroad." On reaching Troy the captain bid us hurry or we should lose the train, and we did hurry, though I pretty well foresaw our fate, and after a running walk of a quarter of a mile, we had the felicity of finding the train had left and that the next one would not start till twelve. The little darlings are bearing the disappointment sweetly.

4 P.M.—After depositing my note in the Post-office, we strolled about awhile and then came across to a hotel, where I ordered a lunch-dinner. We got through at twelve and marched to the station, expecting to start at once, when M. came running up to me declaring there was no train to Williamstown till five o'clock. My heart fairly turned over; however, I did not believe it, but on making inquiries it proved to be only too true. For a minute I sat in silent despair. Just then the landlord of the hotel drew nigh and said to me, "You don't look very healthy, Mrs.; if you'll walk over to my house, I will give you a bedroom free of charge and you can lie down and rest awhile." Over to his house we went, weary enough. After awhile, finding them all forlorn, I got a carriage and we drove out; on coming back I ordered some ice-cream, which built us all up amazingly. The children are now counting the minutes till five. One of the boys is perched on a wash-stand with his feet dangling down through the hole where the bowl should be; the other is eating crackers; the landlord is anxious I should take a glass of wine; and M. is everywhere at once, having nearly worn out my watch-pocket to see what time it was.

Monday, June 21st.—It is now going on a fortnight since we left home. Oh, if it were God's will, how I should love to get well, pay you back some of the debts I owe you, be a better mother to my children, write some more books, and make you love me so you wouldn't know what to do with yourself! Just to see how it would seem to be well, and to show you what a splendid creature I could be, if once out of the harness! A modest little list you will say!... I said to myself, Is it after all such a curse to suffer and to be a source of suffering to others? Isn't it worth while to pay something for warm human sympathies and something for rich experience of God's love and wisdom? And I felt, that for you to have a radiant, cheerful, health-happy wife was not, perhaps, so good for you, as a minister of Christ's gospel, as to have the poor feeble creature whose infirmities keep you anxious and off the top of the wave.

Saturday afternoon the Professor took me off strawberrying again. Can you believe that till this June I never went strawberrying in my life? I don't eat them, so the fun is in the picking. Do you realise how kind the Professor is to me? I am afraid I don't. He works very hard, too hard, I think; but perhaps he does it as a refuge from his loneliness. His heart seems still full of tenderness toward Louisa. Yesterday he took me aside and told me, with much emotion, that he dreamed the night before that she floated towards him with a leaf in her hand, on which she wrote the words "Sabbath peacefulness." I love him much, but am afraid of him, as I am of all men—even of you; you need not laugh, I am.

To Mrs. Smith she writes from Rockaway, July 24th:

We were glad to hear that you were safely settled at Prout's Neck, far from riots, if not from rumors thereof. We have as convenient and roomy and closetty a cottage as possible. We are within three minutes or so of the beach, and go back and forth, bathe, dig sand, and stare at the ocean according to our various ages and tastes. I really do not know how else we spend our time. I sew a little, and am going to sew more when my machine comes; read a little, doze a little, and eat a good deal. The butcher calls every morning, and so does the baker with excellent bread; twice a week clams call at thirty cents the hundred; we get milk, butter, and eggs without much trouble; and ice and various vegetables without any, as Mrs. Bull sends them to us every day, with sprinklings of fruit, pitchers of cream, herring and whatever is going. We either sit on the beach looking and listening to the waves, every evening, or we run in to Mrs. Bull's; or gather about our parlor-table reading. By ten we are all off to bed. George does nothing but race back and forth to New York on Seminary business; he has gone now. I went with him the other day. The city looks pinched and wo-begone. We were caught in that tornado and nearly pulled to pieces.

27th.—You will be sorry to hear that our last summer's siege with dysentery bids fair to be repeated. Yesterday, when the disease declared itself, I must own that for a few hours I felt about heart-broken. My own strength is next to nothing, and how to face such a calamity I knew not. Ah, how much easier it is to pray daily, "Oh, Jesus Christus, wachs in mir!" than to consent to, yea rejoice in, the terms of the grant! Well, George went for the doctor. His quarters at this season are right opposite; he is a German and brother of the author Auerbach. We brought G.'s cot into our room and George and I took care of him till three o'clock, when for the first time since we had children, I gave out and left the poor man to get along as nurse as he best could. I can tell you it comes hard on one's pride to resign one's office to a half-sick husband. I think I have let the boys play too hard in the sun. I long to have you see this pretty cottage and this beach.

Aug. 3d.—The children are out of the doctor's hands and I do about nothing at all. I hope you are as lazy as I am. Today I bathed, read the paper and finished John Halifax. I wish I could write such a book!

To Miss Gilman she writes, August 10th:

We have the nicest of cottages, near the sea. I often think of you as I sit watching the waves rush in and the bathers rushing out. I have not yet thanked you for the hymns you sent me. The traveller's hymn sounds like George Withers. Mr. P. borrowed a volume of his poems which delights us both. I am glad you are asking your mother questions about your father. I am amazed at myself for not asking my dear mother many a score about my father, which no human being can answer now. I do not like to think of you all leaving New York. Few families would be so missed and mourned.

I can sympathise with you in regard to your present Sunday "privileges." We have a long walk in glaring sunshine, sit on bare boards, live through the whole (or nearly the whole) Prayer-book, and then listen, if we can, to a sermon three-quarters of an hour long, its length not being its chief fault. I am utterly unable to bear such fatigue, and spend my time chiefly at home, with some hope of more profit, at any rate. How true it is that our Master's best treasures are kept in earthen vessels! Humanly speaking, we should declare it to be for His glory to commit the preaching of His gospel to the best and wisest hands. But His ways are not as our ways.... I feel such a longing, when Sunday conies, to spend it with good people, under the guidance of a heaven-taught man. A minister has such wonderful opportunity for doing good! It seems dreadful to see the opportunity more than wasted. The truth is, we all need, ministers and all, a closer walk with God. If a man comes down straight from the mount to speak to those who have just come from the same place, he must be in a state to edify and they to be edified.

From New York she writes to Miss Shipman, October 24th:

Your letter came just as we started for Poughkeepsie. The Synod met there and I was invited to accompany George, and, quite contrary to my usual habits, I went. We had a nice time. I feel that you are in the best place in the world. Next to dying and going home one's self, it must be sweet to accompany a Christian friend down to the very banks of the river. Isn't it strange that after such experiences we can ever again have a worldly thought, or ever lose the sense of the reality of divine things! But we are like little children—ever learning and ever forgetting. Still, it is well to be learning, and I envy you your frequent visits to the house of mourning. You will miss your dear friend very much. I know how you love her. How many beloved ones you have already lost for a season!... Don't set me to making brackets. I am as worldly now as I can be, and my head full of work on all sorts of things. I made two cornucopias of your pattern and filled them with grasses and autumn leaves, and they were magnificent. I got very large grasses in the Rockaway marshes. The children are all well and as gay as larks.

Early in November the corner-stone of the Church of the Covenant was laid. She wrote the following hymn for the occasion:

A temple, Lord, we raise; Let all its walls be praise To Thee alone. Draw nigh, O Christ, we pray, To lead us on our way, And be Thou, now and aye, Our corner-stone.

In humble faith arrayed, We these foundations laid In war's dark day. Oppression's reign o'erthrown, Sweet peace once more our own, Do Thou the topmost stone Securely lay.

And when each earth-built wall Crumbling to dust shall fall, Our work still own. Be to each faithful heart That here hath wrought its part, What in Thy Church Thou art— The Corner-stone.

* * * * *


Happiness in her Children. The Summer of 1864. Letters from Hunter. Affliction among Friends.

In the early part of 1864 she was more than usually afflicted with neuralgic troubles and that "horrid calamity," as she calls it, sleeplessness. "I know just how one feels when one can't eat or sleep or talk. I declare, a good deal of the time pulling words out of me is like pulling out teeth."

Still (she writes to a sister-in-law, Jan. 15th), we are a happy family in spite of our ailments. I suffer a great deal and cause anxiety to my husband by it, but then I enjoy a great deal and so does he, and our younger children—to say nothing of A.—are sources of constant felicity. Do not you miss the hearing little feet pattering round the house? It seems to me that the sound of my six little feet is the very pleasantest sound in the world. Often when I lie in bed racked with pain and exhausted from want of food—for my digestive organs seem paralysed when I have neuralgia—hearing these little darlings about the house compensates for everything, and I am inexpressibly happy in the mere sense of possession. I hate to have them grow up and to lose my pets, or exchange them for big boys and girls. I suppose your boys are a great help to you and company too, but I feel for you that you have not also a couple of girls.... Poor Louisa! It is very painful to think what she suffered. Her death was such a shock to me, I can hardly say why, that I have never been since what I was before. I suppose my nervous system was so shattered, that so unexpected a blow would naturally work unkindly.

Early in the following summer she was distressed by the sudden bereavement of dear friends and by the death of her nephew, who fell in one of the battles of the Wilderness. In a letter to Miss Gilman, dated June 18th, she refers to this:

Your dear little flowers came in excellent condition, but at a moment when I could not possibly write to tell you so. The death of Mrs. R. H. broke my heart. I only knew her by a sort of instinct, but I sorrowed in her mother's sorrow and in that of her sisters. Death is a blessed thing to the one whom it leads to Christ's kingdom and presence, but oh, how terrible for those it leaves fainting and weeping behind! We expect to go off for the summer on next Thursday. We go to Hunter, N. Y., in the region of the Catskills. My husband's mother has been with me during the last six weeks and has just gone home, and I have now to do up the last things in a great hurry. You may not know that my A. and M. S., and a number of other young people of their age, joined our church on last Sunday. I can hardly realise my felicity. I seem to myself to have a new child. Your sister may have told you of the loss of Professor Hopkins' son. He was the first grandchild in our family and his father's all. We may never hear what his fate was, but the suspense has been dreadful.

Her interest in the national struggle was intense and her conviction of its Providential character unwavering. To a friend, who seemed to her a little lukewarm on the subject, she wrote at this time:

For my part, I am sometimes afraid I shall die of joy if we ever gain a complete and final victory. You can call this spunk if you choose. But my spunk has got a backbone of its own and that is deep-seated conviction, that this is a holy war, and that God himself sanctions it. He spares nothing precious when He has a work to do. No life is too valuable for Him to cut short, when any of His designs can be furthered by doing so. But I could talk a month and not have done, you wicked unbeliever.

To her Husband, Hunter, June 27, 1864.

This morning, after breakfast, I sallied out with six children to take a most charming walk, scramble, climb, etc. We put on our worst old duds, tuck up our skirts June 27, knee-high, and have a regular good time of it. If you were awake so early as eight o'clock—I don't believe you were! you might have seen us with a good spy-glass, and it would have made your righteous soul leap for joy to see how we capered and laughed, and what strawberries we picked, and how much of a child A. turned into. They all six "played run" till they had counted twelve and then they tumbled down and rolled in the grass, till I wondered what their bones were made of. I do not see that we could have found a better place for the children. What with the seven calves, the cows, the sheep, the two pet lambs, the dogs, hens, chickens, horses, etc., they are perfectly happy. Just now they have been to see the butter made and to get a drink of buttermilk. We have lots of strawberries and cream, pot-cheese, Johnny-cakes, and there are always eggs and milk at our service. From diplomatic motives I advise you not to say too much about Hunter to people asking questions. It would entirely spoil its only great charm if a rush of silly city folks should scent it out. It is really a primitive place and that you can say. Mr. Coe preached an excellent sermon on Sunday morning.

To Mrs. Smith, Hunter, July 4, 1864.

I have just been off, all alone, foraging, and have come home bringing my sheaves with me: ground pine and red berries, with which I have made a beautiful wreath. I have also adorned the picture of Gen. Grant with festoons of evergreens, conjuring him the while not to disappoint our hopes, but to take Richmond. Alas! you may know, by this time, that he can't; but in lack of news since a week ago, I can but hope for the best. I've taken a pew and we contrive to squeeze into it in this wise: first a child, then a mother, then a child, then an Annie, then a child, the little ones being stowed in the cracks left between us big ones. Mr. R., the parson, looking fit to go straight into his grave, was up here to get a wagon as he was going for a load of chips. His wife was at home sick, without any servant, had churned three hours and the butter wouldn't come, and has a pew full of little ones. Oh, my poor sisters in the ministry! my heart aches for them. Mr. R. gave us a superior sermon last Sunday.... I know next to nothing about what is going on in the world. But George writes that he feels decidedly pleased with the look of things. He has been carrying on like all possessed since I left, having company to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and finally went and had Chi Alpha all himself.

July 25th.—We went one day last week on a most delightful excursion, twenty-one of us in all. Our drive was splendid and the scenery sublime; even we distinguished Swiss travellers thought so! We came to one spot where ice always is found, cut out big pieces, ate it, drank it, threw it at each other and carried on with it generally. We had our dinner on the grass in the woods. We brought home a small cartload of natural brackets; some of them beautiful.

August 1st.—You have indeed had a "rich experience." [11] We all read your letter with the deepest interest and feel that it would have been good to be there. Your account of Caro shows what force of character she possessed, as well as what God's grace can do and do quickly. This is not the first time He has ripened a soul into full Christian maturity with almost miraculous rapidity. A veteran saint could not have laid down his armor and adjusted himself to meet death with more calmness than did this young disciple. I do not wonder her family were borne, for the time, above their sorrow, but alas! their bitter pangs of anguish are yet to meet them. Her poor mother! How much she has suffered and has yet to suffer! all the more because she bears it so heroically.

To Miss Emily S. Gilman, Hunter, Aug 1, 1864.

You must have wondered why I did not answer your letter and your book, for both of which I thank you. Well, it has been such dry, warm weather, that I have not felt like writing; besides, for nurse I have only a little German girl fourteen years old, who never was out of New York before, and whom I have been so determined on spoiling that I couldn't bear to take her off from her play to mend, patch, darn, wash faces, necks, feet, etc., and unconsciously did every thing there was to do for the children and a little more besides. I like the little book very much. You have the greatest knack, you girls, of lighting on nice books and nice hymns. We are right in the midst of most charming walks. Here is a grove and there is a brook; here is a creek, almost a river (big enough at any rate to get on to the map) and there a mountain. As to ferns and mosses for your poetical side, and as for raspberries and blackberries for your t'other side, time would fail me if I should begin to speak of them. I think a great deal of you and your sisters when off on foraging expeditions, and wish you were here notwithstanding you are mossy and ferny there. We have as yet made only one excursion. That was delightful and gave us our first true idea of the Catskills. Before Mr. P. came I usually went off on my forenoon walk alone, unless the children trooped after, and came home a miniature Birnam wood, with all sorts of things except creeping things and flying fowl.

I have just finished reading to M. and a little girl near her age, a little French book you would like, called "Augustin." I never met with a sweeter picture of a loving child anywhere. Well, I may as well stop writing. Remember me lovingly to all your dear household.

To Mrs. Stearns she writes, Sept. 16:

How much faith and patience we poor invalids do need! The burden of life sits hard on our weary shoulders. I think the mountain air has agreed with our children better than the seaside has done, but George craves the ocean and the bathing. He spent this forenoon, as he has a good many others, in climbing the side of the mountain for exercise, views, and blackberries. I go with him sometimes. We had a few days' visit from Prof. Hopkins. He has heard confirmation of the rumors of poor Eddy's death and burial. He means to go to Ashland as soon as the state of the country makes it practicable, but has little hope of identifying E.'s remains. It is a great sorrow to him to lose all he had in this horrible way, but he bears it with wonderful faith and patience, and says he never prayed for his son's life after he went into action. Some letters received by him, give a pleasant idea of the Christian stand E. took after entering the army. I believe this is Lizzie P——'s wedding day. There is a beautiful rainbow smiling on it from our mountain home, and I hope a real one is glorifying hers.

To Miss Gilman, Hunter, Sept. 17.

Oh, I wish you were here on this glorious day! The foliage has begun to turn a little, and the mountains are in a state bordering on perfection. It is wicked for me stay in-doors even to write this, but it seems as if a letter from here would carry with it a savor of mountain air, and must do you more good than one from the city could. I wish I had thought sooner to ask you if you would like some of our mosses. I thought I had seen mosses before, but found I had not. I will enclose some dried specimens. I thought, while I was in the woods this morning, that I never had thanked God half enough for making these lovely things and giving us tastes wherewith to enjoy them.

You ask if I have spilled ink all down the side of this white house. Yes, I have, wo be unto me. I was sick abed and got up to write to Mr. P., not wanting him to know I was sick, and one of the children came in and I snatched him up in my lap to hug and kiss a little, and he, of course, hit the pen and upset the inkstand and burst out crying at my dismay. Then might have been seen a headachy woman catching the apoplexy by leaning out of the window and scrubbing paint, sacrificing all her nice rags in the process, and dreadfully mortified into the bargain.... Yesterday we were all caught in a pouring rain when several miles from home on the side of the mountain, blackberrying. We each took a child and came rolling and tearing down through the bushes and over stones, H.'s little legs flying as little legs rarely fly. We nearly died with laughing, and if I only knew how to draw, I could make you laugh by giving you a picture of the scene. You will judge from this that we are all great walkers; so we are. I take the children almost everywhere, and they walk miles every day. Well, I will go now and get you some scraps of pressed mosses.

* * * * *


The Death of President Lincoln. Dedication of the Church of the Covenant. Growing Insomnia. Resolves to try the Water-cure. Its beneficial Effects. Summer at Newburgh. Reminiscence of an Excursion to Paltz Point. Death of her Husband's Mother. Funeral of her Nephew, Edward Payson Hopkins.

Two events rendered the month of April, 1865, especially memorable to Mrs. Prentiss. One was the assassination of President Lincoln on the evening of Good Friday. She had been very ill, and her husband, on learning the dreadful news from the morning paper, thought it advisable to keep it from her for a while; but one of the children, going into her chamber, burst into tears and thus betrayed the secret. Her state of nervous prostration and her profound, affectionate admiration for Mr. Lincoln, made the blow the most stunning by far she ever received from any public calamity. It was such, no doubt, to tens of thousands; indeed, to the American people. No Easter morning ever before dawned upon them amid such a cloud of horror, or found them so bowed down with grief. The younger generation can hardly conceive of the depth and intensity, or the strange, unnatural character, of the impression made upon the minds of old and young alike, by this most foul murder. [12]

The other event was of a very different character and filled her with great joy. It was the dedication, on the last Sunday in April, of the new church edifice, whose growth she had watched with so much interest.

In the spring of 1865 she was induced, by the entreaty of friends who had themselves tested his skill, to consult Dr. Schieferdecker, a noted hydropathist, and later to place herself under his care. In a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipman, she writes: "I want to tell you, but do not want you to mention it to anyone, that I have been to see Dr. Schieferdecker to know what he thought of my case. He says that I might go on dieting to the end of my days and not get well, but that his system could and would cure me, only it would take a long time. I have not decided whether to try his process, but have no doubt he understands my disease." Dr. Schieferdecker had been a pupil and was an enthusiastic disciple of Priesnitz. He had unbounded faith in the healing properties of water. He was very impulsive, opinionated, self-confident, and accustomed to speak contemptuously of the old medical science and those who practised it. But for all that, he possessed a remarkable sagacity in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease. Mrs. Prentiss went through the "cure" with indomitable patience and pluck, and was rewarded by the most beneficial results. Her sleeplessness had become too deep-rooted to be overcome, but it was greatly mitigated and her general condition vastly improved. She never ceased to feel very grateful to Dr. Schieferdecker for the relief he had afforded her, and for teaching her how to manage herself; for after passing from under his care, she still continued to follow his directions. "No tongue can tell how much I am indebted to him," she wrote in 1869. "I am like a ship that after poking along twenty years with a heavy load on board, at last gets into port, unloads, and springs to the surface."

To Miss E. S. Gilman, New York, Feb. 23, 1865.

It is said to be an ill wind that blows nobody good, and as I am still idling about, doing absolutely nothing but receive visits from neuralgia, I have leisure to think of poor Miss ——. I wrote to ask her if there was anything she wanted and could not get in her region; yesterday I received her letter, in which she mentions a book, but says "anything that is useful for body or mind" would be gratefully received. Now I got the impression from that article in the Independent, that she could take next to no nourishment. Do you know what she does take, and can you suggest, from what you know, anything she would like? What's the use of my being sick, if it isn't for her sake or that of some other suffering soul? I want, very much, to get some things together and send her; nobody knows who hasn't experienced it, how delightfully such things break in on the monotony of a sick-room. Just yet I am not strong enough to do anything; my hands tremble so that I can hardly use even a pen; yet you need not think I am much amiss, for I go out every pleasant day, to ride, and some days can take quite a walk. The trouble is that when the pain returns, as it does several times a day, it knocks my strength out of me. I hope when all parts of my frame have been visited by this erratic sprite, it may find it worth while to beat a retreat. Only to think, we are going to move to No. 70 East Twenty-seventh street, and you have all been and gone away! The rent is enormous, $1,000 having been just added to an already high price. Our people have taken that matter in hand and no burden of it will come on us. I received your letter and am much obliged to you for writing to Miss ——, for me; the reason I did not do it was, that it seemed like hurrying her up to thank me for the little drop of comfort I sent her. Dear me! it's hard to be sick when people send you quails and jellies, and fresh eggs, and all such things—but to be sick and suffer for necessaries must be terrible.

To the Same, New York, March 9, 1865.

I thank you for the details of Miss ——'s case, as I wished to describe them to some friends. I sent her ten dollars yesterday for two of my friends. I also sent off a box by express, for the contents of which I had help. The things were such as I had persuaded her to mention; a new kind of farina, figs, two portfolios (of course she didn't ask for two, but I had one I thought she would, perhaps, like better than the one I bought), a few crackers, and several books. Mr. P. added one of those beautiful large-print editions of the Psalms which will, I think, be a comfort to her. I shall also send Adelaide Newton by-and-by; I thought she had her hands full of reading for the present, and the great thing is not to heap comforts on her all at once and then leave her to her fate, but keep up a stream of such little alleviations as can be provided. She said, she had poor accommodations for writing, so I greatly enjoyed fitting up the portfolio which was none the worse for wear, with paper and envelopes, a pencil with rubber at the end, a cunning little knife, some stamps, for which there was a small box, a few pens, etc. I know it will please you to hear of this, and as the money was furnished me for the purpose, you need not set it down to my credit.

I meant to go to see your sister, but my head is still in such a weak state that though I go to walk nearly every day, I can not make calls. It is five weeks since I went to church, for the same reason. It is a part of God's discipline with me to keep me shut up a good deal more than the old Adam in me fancies; but His way is absolutely perfect, and I hope I wouldn't change it in any particular, if I could. Have you Pusey's tract, "Do all to the Lord Jesus"? If not, I must send it to you. It seems as if I had a lot of things I wanted to say, but after writing a little my hands and arms begin to tremble so that I can hardly write plainly. You never saw such a lazy life as I lead now-a-days; I can't do any thing. I advise you to do what you have to do for Christ now; by the time you are as old as I am perhaps you will have the will and not the power. Well, good-bye till next time.

The summer of this year was passed at Newburgh in company with the Misses Butler—now Mrs. Kirkbride, of Philadelphia, and Mrs. Booth, of Liverpool—and the families of Mr. William Allen Butler, Mr. B. F. Butler, and Mr. John P. Crosby, to all of whom Mrs. Prentiss was strongly attached. The late Mr. Daniel Lord, the eminent lawyer, with a portion of his family, had also a cottage near by and was full of hospitable kindness. In spite of the exacting hydropathic treatment, she found constant refreshment and delight in the society of so many dear friends. "The only thing I have to complain of" she wrote, "is everybody being too good to me. How different it is being among friends to being among strangers!"

In a letter to her husband, dated New York, Sept. 15, 1879, Mr. William Allen Butler gives the following reminiscence of an excursion to Paltz Point and an evening at Newburgh:

From the date you, give in your note (to which I have just recurred) of our trip to Paltz Point, it seems that in writing you to-day I have unwittingly fallen on the anniversary of that pleasant excursion. Without this reminder I could not have told the day or the year, but of the excursion itself I have always had a vivid and delightful recollection; and, if I am not mistaken, Mrs. Prentiss enjoyed it as fully as any one of the merry party. It was only on that jaunt and in our summer home at Newburgh that I had the opportunity of knowing her readiness to enter into that kind of enjoyment, which depends upon the co-operation of every member of a circle for the entertainment of all. The elements of our group were well commingled, and the bright things evoked by their contact and friction were neither few nor far between. The game to which you allude of "Inspiration" or "Rhapsody" was a favorite. The evening at Paltz Point called out some clever sallies, of which I have no record or special recollection; but I know that then, as always, Mrs. Prentiss seemed to have at her pencil's point for instant use the wit and fancy so charmingly exhibited in her writings. She published somewhere an account of one of our inspired or rhapsodical evenings, but greatly to my regret failed to include in it her own contribution which was the best of all. I distinctly remember the time and scene—the September evening—the big, square sitting-room of the old Seminary building in which you boarded—the bright faces whose radiance made up in part for the limitations of artificial light—the puzzled air which every one took on when presented with the list of unmanageable words, to be reproduced in their consecutive order in prose or verse composition within the next quarter or half hour—the stillness which supervened while the enforced "pleasures" of "poetic pains" or prose agony were being undergone—the sense of relief which supplemented the completion of the batch of extempore effusions—and the fun which their reading provoked. Mrs. Prentiss had contrived out of the odd and incoherent jumble of words a choice bit of poetic humor and pathos, which I never quite forgave her for omitting in the publication of the nonsense written by other hands. These trifles as they seemed at the time, and as in fact they were, become less insignificant in the retrospect, as we associate them with the whole character and being we instinctively love to place at the farthest remove from gloom or sadness, and as they rediscover to us in the distance the native vivacity and grace of which they were the chance expression. Since that summer of 1865, having lived away from New York, I saw little of Mrs. Prentiss, but I have a special remembrance of one little visit you made at our home in Yonkers which she seemed very much to enjoy—saying of the reunion which made it so pleasant to the members of our family and all who happened to be together at the time, that it was "like heaven." [13]

During the summer of 1865 the sympathies of Mrs. Prentiss were much wrought upon by the sickness and death of her husband's mother, who entered into rest on the 9th of August, in the eighty-fourth year of her age. On the 12th of the previous January, she with the whole family had gone to Newark to celebrate the eighty-third birthday of this aged saint. Had they known it was to be the last, they could have wished nothing changed. It was a perfect winter's day, and the scene in the old parsonage was perfect too. There, surrounded by children and children's children, sat the venerable grandmother with a benignant smile upon her face and the peace of God in her heart. As she received in birthday gifts and kisses and congratulations their loving homage, the measure of her joy was full, and she seemed ready to say her Nunc dimittis. She belonged to the number of those holy women of the old time who trusted in God and adorned themselves with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and whose children to the latest generation rise up and call them blessed.

In the course of this year her sympathies were also deeply touched by repeated visits from her brother-in-law, Professor Hopkins, on his way to and from Virginia. Allusion has been made already to the death of her nephew, Lieutenant Edward Payson Hopkins. He was killed in battle while gallantly leading a cavalry charge at Ashland, in Virginia, on the 11th of May, 1864. In June of the following year his father went to Ashland with the hope of recovering the body. Five comrades had fallen with Edward, and the negroes had buried them without coffins, side by side, in two trenches in a desolate swampy field and under a very shallow covering of earth. The place was readily discovered, but it was found impossible to identify the body. The disappointed father, almost broken-hearted, turned his weary steps homeward. When he reached Williamstown his friends said, "He has grown ten years older since he went away."

Several months later he learned that there were means of identification which could not fail, even if the body had already turned to dust. Accordingly he again visited Ashland, attended this time by soldiers, a surgeon, and Government officials. His search proved successful, and, to his joy, not only was the body identified, but, owing to the swampy nature of the ground, it was found to be in an almost complete state of preservation. There was something wonderfully impressive in the grave aspect and calm, gentle tone of the venerable man, as with his precious charge he passed through New York on his way home. In a letter to Mrs. Prentiss, dated January 2d, 1866, he himself tells the story of the re-interment at Williamstown:

... After stopping a minute at my door the wagon passed at once to the cemetery, and the remains were deposited in the tomb. This was on Thursday. After consulting with my brother and his son (the chaplain) I determined to wait till the Sabbath before the interment. Accordingly, at 3 o'clock—after the afternoon service—the remains of my dear boy were placed beside those of his mother. The services were simple, but solemn in a high degree. They were opened by an address from Harry. Prayer followed by Rev. Mr. Noble, now supplying the desk here. He prefaced his prayer by saying that he never saw Edward but once, when he preached at Williamstown at a communion and saw him sitting beside me and partaking with me. Singing then followed by the choir of which Eddy was for a long time a member. The words were those striking lines of Montgomery:

Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime, etc.

After which the coffin was lowered to its place by young men who were friends of Edward in his earlier years.

The state of the elements was exceedingly favorable to the holding of such an exercise in the open air at a season generally so inclement. The night before there was every appearance of a heavy N. E. storm. But Sabbath morning it was calm. As I went to church I noticed that the sun rested on the Vermont mountains just north of us, though with a mellowed light as if a veil had been thrown over them. In the after part of the day the open sky had spread southward—so that the interment took place when the air was as mild and serene as spring, just as the last sun of the year was sinking towards the mountains. Almost the entire congregation were present.... Thus, dear sister, I have given you a brief account of the solemn but peaceful winding up of what has been to me a sharp and long trial, and I know to yourself and family also. In eternity we shall more clearly read the lesson which even now, in the light of opening scenes, we are beginning to interpret.

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