The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss
by George L. Prentiss
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To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, April 25, 1870.

I wish I could describe to you my last interview with Mrs. B. She had altered so in two weeks in which I had not seen her, that I should not have known her. She spoke with difficulty, but by getting close to her mouth I could hear all she said. She went back to the first time she met me, told me her heart then knitted itself to mine, and how she had loved me ever since, etc., etc. I then asked her if she had any parting counsel to give me: "No, not a word.".... Some one came in and wet her lips, gave her a sprig of citronatis, and passed out. I crushed it and let her smell the bruised leaves, saying, "You are just like these crushed leaves." She smiled, and replied, "Well, I haven't had one pain too many, not one. But the agony has been dreadful. I won't talk about that; I just want to see your sunny face." I asked if she was rejoicing in the hope of meeting lost friends and the saints in heaven. She said, with an expressive look, "Oh, no, I haven't got so far as that. I have only got as far as Christ." "For all that," I said, "you'll see my father and mother there." "Why, so I shall," with another bright smile. But her lips were growing white with pain, and I came away.

Did I tell you it was our silver wedding-day on the 16th? We had a very happy day, and if I could see you I should like to tell you all about it. But it is too long a story to tell in writing. I don't see but I've had everything this life can give, and have a curious feeling as if I had got to a stopping-place. I heard yesterday that two of M.'s teachers had said they looked at her with perfect awe on account of her goodness. I really never knew her to do anything wrong.

To a young Friend New York, May 1, 1870.

I could write forever on the subject of Christian charity, but I must say that in the case you refer to, I think you accuse yourself unduly. We are not to part company with our common sense because we want to clasp hands with the Love that thinketh no evil, and we can not help seeing that there are few, if any, on earth without beams in their eyes and foibles and sins in their lives. The fact that your friend repented and confessed his sin, entitled him to your forgiving love, but not to the ignoring of the fact that he was guilty.... Temptations come sometimes in swarms, like bees, and running away does no good, and fighting only exasperates them. The only help must come from Him who understands and can control the whole swarm.

You ask for my prayers, and I ask for yours. I long ago formed the habit of praying at night individually, if possible, for all who had come to me through the day, or whom I had visited; but you contrive to get a much larger share than that. I love to think of your future holiness and usefulness as even in the very least linked to my prayers. Oh, I ought to know how to pray a great deal better than I do, for forty years ago, save one, I this day publicly dedicated myself to Christ. I write to you because I like to do so, recognising no difference between writing and talking. When no better work comes to me, I am glad to give the little pleasure I can, in notes and letters. He who knows how poor we are, how little we have to give, does not disdain even a note like this, since it is written in love to Him and to one of His own dear ones.

May 23d.—Your last letter was like a fragrant breath of country air, redolent of flowers, and all that makes rural scenes so sweet. But better still, it was fragrant with love to Him who is the bond between us, in whose name and for whose sake we are friends. I wish I loved Him better and were more like Him; perhaps that is about as far as we get in this world, for no matter how far we advance, we are never satisfied; there is always something ahead; I doubt if any one ever said, even in a whisper and to himself, "Now I love my Saviour as much as a human soul can."

You speak of my having given you "counsels." Have I had the presumption to do that? Two-thirds of the time I feel as if I wanted somebody to counsel me; the only thing I really know that you do not, is what it is to be beaten with persistent, ceaseless stripes, year after year, year after year, with scarcely breathing time between. I don't know whether this is most an argument against me, or for God; on the whole it is most for Him, who was so good and kind as never to spare me for my writhing and groaning. Truly as I value this discipline, I want you to give yourself to Him so unreservedly that you will not need such sharp treatment. I am not going to keep writing and getting you in debt. All I ask is if you ever feel a little under the weather and want a specially loving or cheering word, to give me the chance to speak or write it.

A chapter might be written about Mrs. Prentiss' love for little children, the enthusiasm with which she studied all their artless ways, her delight in their beauty, and the reverence with which she regarded the mystery of their infant being. Her faith in their real, complete humanity, their susceptibility to spiritual influences, and, when called from earth, their blessed immortality in and through Christ, was very vivid; and it was untroubled by any of those distressing doubts, or misgivings, that are engendered by the materialistic spirit and science of the age. Contempt for them shocked her as an offence against the Holy Child Jesus, their King and Saviour. Her very look and manner as she took a young infant, especially a sick or dying infant, in her arms and gave it a loving kiss, seemed to say:

Sweet baby, little as thou art, Thou art a human whole; Thou hast a little human heart, Thou hast a deathless soul. [6]

The following letter to a Christian mother, dated May 13th, will show her feeling on this subject:

This morning we attended the funeral of a little baby, eight months old. My husband, in his remarks, said that though born and ever continuing to be a sufferer, it was never saddened by this fellowship with Christ; and that he believed it was a partaker of His holiness, and glad through His indwelling, even though unconscious of it. During the last days of its life, after each paroxysm of coughing, it would look first at its mother, then at its father, for sympathy, and then look upward with a face radiant beyond description. I can't tell you how it touched me to think that I had in that baby a little Christian sister—not merely redeemed, but sanctified from its birth—and I know it will touch and strengthen you to hear of it. I felt a reverence for that tiny, lifeless form, that I can not put into words. And, indeed, why should it be harder for God to enter into the soul of an infant than into our "unlikeliest" ones? ... I see more and more that if we have within us the mind of Christ, we must bear the burden of other griefs than our own; He did not merely pity suffering humanity; He bore our griefs, and in all our afflictions He was afflicted.

To Mrs. Condict, June 6, 1870.

If you can get hold of the April number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, read an article in it called "Psychology in the Life, Work and Teachings of Jesus." I think it very striking and very true. Praying for Dr. —— this morning, I had such a peaceful feeling that he was safe. Do you feel so about him? I had a very different experience about another man who has been to see me since I began this letter, and who said I was the first happy person he ever met. May God lay that to his heart!... Rummaging among dusty things in the attic this forenoon with great repugnance, I found such a beautiful letter from my husband, written for my solace in Switzerland when he was in Paris (he wrote me every day, sometimes twice a day, during the two months of our enforced separation) that even the drudgery of getting my hands soiled and my back broken was sweetened. That's the way God keeps on spoiling us; one good thing after another till we are ashamed. Well, let us step onward, hand in hand. I wonder which of us will outrun the other and step in first? I am so glad I'm willing to live.

In the course of this spring The Percys was published. The story first came out as a serial in the New York Observer. It was translated into French under the title La Famille Percy. In 1876 a German version appeared under the title Die Familie Percy. It was also republished in London. [7]

* * * * *


Lines on going to Dorset. A Cloud over her. Faber's Life. Loving Friends for one's own sake and loving them for Christ's sake. The Bible and the Christian Life. Dorset Society and Occupations. Counsels to a young Friend in Trouble. "Don't stop praying for your Life!" Cure for the Heart-sickness caused by a Sight of human Imperfections. Fenelon's Teaching about Humiliation and being patient with Ourselves.

The following lines, found among her papers after her death, show in what spirit she went to Dorset:

Once more I change my home, once more begin Life in this rural stillness and repose; But I have brought with me my heart of sin, And sin nor quiet nor cessation knows.

Ah, when I make the final, blessed change, I shall leave that behind, shall throw aside Earth's soiled and soiling garments, and shall range Through purer regions like a youthful bride.

Thrice welcome be that day! Do thou, meanwhile, My soul, sit ready, unencumbered wait; The Master bides thy coming, and His smile Shall bid thee welcome at the golden gate. DORSET, June 15, 1870.

To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, June 18, 1870.

I would love to have you here with me in this dear little den of mine and see the mountains from my window. My husband has gone back to town, and my only society is that of the children, so you would be most welcome if you should come in either smiling or sighing. I have had a cloud over me of late. Do you know about Mr. Prentiss' appointment by General Assembly to a professorship at Chicago? His going would involve not only our tearing ourselves out of the heart of our beloved church, but of my losing you and Miss K., and of our all losing this dear little home. Of course, he does not want to go, and I am shocked at the thought of his leaving the ministry; but, on the other hand, there is a right and a wrong to the question, and we ought to want to do whatever God chooses. The thought of giving up this home makes me know better how to sympathise with you if you have to part with yours. I do think it is good for us to be emptied from vessel to vessel, and there is something awful in the thought of having our own way with leanness in the soul. I am greatly pained in reading Faber's Life and Letters, at the shocking way in which he speaks of Mary, calling her his mamma, and praying to her and to Joseph, and nobody knows who not. It seems almost incredible that this is the man who wrote those beautiful strengthening hymns. It sets one to praying "Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe." ... I should have forgotten the lines of mine you quote if you had not copied them. God give to you and to me a thousandfold more of the spirit they breathe, and make us wholly, wholly His own! My repugnance to go to Chicago makes me feel that perhaps that is just the wrench I need. Well, good-bye; at the longest we have not long to stay in this sphere of discipline and correction.

To Mr. G. S. P., Dorset, July 13, 1870.

I had just come home from a delicious little tramp through our own woods when your letter came, and now, if you knew what was good for you, you would drop in and take tea and spend the evening with us. I should like you to see our house and our mountains, and our cup that runs over till we are ashamed. Had I not known you wouldn't come I should have given you a chance, especially as my husband was gone and I was rather lonely; though to be sure he always writes me every day. On the way up here I was glad of time to think out certain things I had been waiting for leisure to attend to. One had some connection with you, as well as one or two other friends. I had long felt that there was a real, though subtle, difference between human—and, shall I say divine?—affection, but did not see just what it was. Turning it over in my mind that day, it suddenly came to me as this. Human friendship may be entirely selfish, giving only to receive in return, or may be partially so—yet still selfish. But the love that grows out of the love of Christ, and that delights in His image wherever it is seen, claims no response; loves because it is its very nature to do so, because it can not help it, and this without regard to what its object gives. I dare not pretend that I have fully reached this state, but I have entered this land, and know that it is one to be desired as a home, an abiding place. I have thought painfully of the narrow quarters and the hot nights endured by so many in New York, during this unusually warm weather—especially of Mrs. G. with three restless children in bed with her and her poor lonely heart. I can not but believe that Christ has real purposes of mercy to her soul. I feel interested in Mr. H.'s summer work in a hard field. In place of aversion to young men, I am beginning to realise how true work for Christ one may do by praying persistently for them, especially those consecrated to the ministry of His gospel. I do hope Christ will have the whole of you, and that you will have the whole of Him. When you write, let me know how you like my beloved Fenelon. Still, you may not like him. Some Christians never get to feeding on these mystical writers, and get on without them.

To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, July 18, 1870.

I was greatly struck with these words yesterday: "As for God His way is perfect"; think of reading the Bible through four times in one year, and nobody knows how many times since, and never resting on these words. Somehow they charmed me. And these words have been ringing in my ears,

"Earth looks so little and so low,"

while conscious that when I can get ferns and flowers, it does not look so "little" or so "low," as it does when I can't. My cook, who is a Romanist, has been prevented from going to her own church seven miles off, by the weather, ever since we came here, and last Sunday said she meant to go to ours. Mr. P. preached on God's character as our Physician, and she was delighted. I think it was hearing one of his little letters to the children that made her realise, that he was a Christian man whom she might safely hear; at any rate, I feel greatly pleased and comforted that she could appreciate such a subject. I fear you are suffering from the weather; we never knew anything like it here. We do not suffer, but wake up every morning bathed in a breeze that refreshes for the day; I mean we do not suffer while we keep still. I am astonished at God's goodness in giving us this place; not His goodness itself, but towards us. If Mrs. Brinsmade [8] left much of such material as the extract you sent me, I wonder Dr. B. did not write her memoir. The more I read of what Christ said about faith, the more impressed I am. Just now I am on the last chapters in the gospel of John, and feel as if I had never read them before. They are just wonderful. We have to read the Bible to understand the Christian life, and we must penetrate far into that life in order to understand the Bible. How beautifully the one interprets the other! I want you to let me know, without telling her that I asked you, if Miss K. could make me a visit if it were not for the expense?

To Miss E. A. Warner, Dorset, July 20, 1870.

Did you ever use a fountain pen? I have had one given me, and like it so much that I sent for one for my husband, and one for Mr. Pratt. When one wants to write in one's lap, or out of doors, it is delightful. Mrs. Field came over from East Dorset on Sunday to have her baby baptized. They had him there in the church through the whole morning service, and he was as quiet as any of us. The next day Mrs. F. came down and spent the morning with me, sweeter, more thoughtful than ever, if changed at all. Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey, of Philadelphia, are passing the summer here at the tavern, and we spend most of our evenings there, or they come here. Mrs. H. is a very superior woman, and though I was determined not to like her, because I have so many people on hand already, I found I could not help it. She is as furious about mosses and lichens and all such things as I am, and the other day took home a bushel-basket of them. She is an earnest Christian, and has passed through deep waters; I ought to have reversed the order of those clauses. Excuse this rather hasty letter; I feared you might fancy your book lost. If you are alive, let me know it, also if you are dead.

To a young Friend, Dorset, Aug. 8, 1870.

I dare not answer your letter, just received, in my own strength, but must pray over it long. It is a great thing to learn how far our doubts and despondencies are the direct result of physical causes, and another great thing is, when we can not trace any such connexion, to bear patiently and quietly what God permits, if He does not authorise. I have no more doubt that you love Him, and that He loves you, than that I love Him and that He loves me. You have been daily in my prayers. Temptations and conflict are inseparable from the Christian life; no strange thing has happened to you. Let me comfort you with the assurance that you will be taught more and more by God's Spirit how to resist; and that true strength and holy manhood will spring up from this painful soil. Try to take heart; there is more than one foot-print on the sands of time to prove that "some forlorn and shipwrecked brother" has traversed them before you, and come off conqueror through the Beloved. Don't stop praying for your life. Be as cold and emotionless as you please; God will accept your naked faith, when it has no glow or warmth in it; and in His own time the loving, glad heart will come back to you. I deeply feel for and with you, and have no doubt that a week among these mountains would do more towards uniting you to Christ than a mile of letters would. You can't complain of any folly to which I could not plead guilty. I have put my Saviour's patience to every possible test, and how I love Him when I think what He will put up with.

You ask if I "ever feel that religion is a sham"? No, never. I know it is a reality. If you ask if I am ever staggered by the inconsistencies of professing Christians, I say yes, I am often made heartsick by them; but heartsickness always makes me run to Christ, and one good look at Him pacifies me. This is in fact my panacea for every ill; and as to my own sinfulness, that would certainly overwhelm me if I spent much time in looking at it. But it is a monster whose face I do not love to see; I turn from its hideousness to the beauty of His face who sins not, and the sight of "yon lovely Man" ravishes me. But at your age I did this only by fits and starts, and suffered as you do. So I know how to feel for you, and what to ask for you. God purposely sickens us of man and of self, that we may learn to "look long at Jesus."

And this brings me to what you say about Fenelon's going too far, when he says we may judge of the depth of our humility by our delight in humiliation, etc. No, he does not go a bit too far. Paul says, "I will glory in my infirmities"—"I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." I think this a great attainment; but that His disciples may reach it, though only through a humbling, painful process. Then as to God's glory. We say, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Now, can we enjoy Him till we do glorify Him? Can we enjoy Him while living for ourselves, while indulging in sin, while prayerless and cold and dead? Does not God directly seek our highest happiness when He strips us of vainglory and self-love, embitters the poisonous draught of mere human felicity, and makes us fall down before Him lost in the sense of His beauty and desirableness? The connexion between glorifying and enjoying Him is, to my mind, perfect—one following as the necessary sequence of the other; and facts bear me out in this. He who has let self go and lives only for the honor of God, is the free, the happy man. He is no longer a slave, but has the liberty of the sons of God; for "him who honors me, I will honor." Satan has befogged you on this point. He dreads to see you ripen into a saintly, devoted, useful man. He hopes to overwhelm and ruin you. But he will not prevail. You have solemnly given yourself to the Lord; you have chosen the work of winning and feeding souls as your life-work, and you can not, must not go back. These conflicts are the lot of those who are training to be the Lord's true yoke-fellows. Christ's sweetest consolations lie behind crosses, and He reserves His best things for those who have the courage to press forward, fighting for them. I entreat you to turn your eyes away from self, from man, and look to Christ. Let me assure you, as a fellow-traveller, that I have been on the road and know it well, and that by and by there won't be such a dust on it. You will meet with hindrances and trials, but will fight quietly through, and no human ear hear the din of battle, no human eye perceive fainting or halting or fall. May God bless you, and become to you an ever-present, joyful reality! Indeed He will; only wait patiently.

In glancing over this, I see that I have here and there repeated myself. Do excuse it. I believe it is owing to the way the flies harass and distract me.

August 17th.—I feel truly grateful to God if I have been of any comfort to you. I know only too well the shock of seeing professors of even sinless perfection guilty of what I consider sinful sin, and my whole soul was so staggered that for some days I could not pray, but could only say, "O God, if there be any God, come to my rescue." ... But God loves better than He knows us, and foresaw every infidelity before He called us to Himself. Nothing in us takes Him, therefore, by surprise. Fenelon teaches what no other writer does—to be "patient with ourselves," and I think as you penetrate into the Christian life, you will agree with him on every point as I do.

August 19th.—I have had a couple of rather sickish days since writing the above, but am all right again now. Hot weather does not agree with me. I used to reproach myself for religious stupidity when not well, but see now that God Is my kind Father—not my hard taskmaster, expecting me to be full of life and zeal when physically exhausted. It takes long to learn such lessons. One has to penetrate deeply into the heart of Christ to begin to know its tenderness and sympathy and forbearance.

You can't imagine how Miss K. has luxuriated in her visit, nor how good she thinks we all are. She holds views to which I can not quite respond, but I do not condemn or reject them. She is a modest, praying, devoted woman; not disposed to obtrude, much less to urge her opinions; full of Christian charity and forbearance; and I am truly thankful that she prays for me and mine; in fact, she loves to pray so, that when she gets hold of a new case, she acts as one does who has found a treasure.

I wish you were looking out with me on the beautiful array of mountains to be seen from every window of our house and breathing this delicious air.

September 25th.—We expect now to go home on Friday next, though if I had known how early the foliage was going to turn this year, I should have planned to stay a week longer to see it in all its glory. It is looking very beautiful even now, and our eyes have a perpetual feast. We have had a charming summer, but one does not want to play all the time, and I hope God has work of some sort for me to do at home during the winter. Meanwhile, I wish I could send you a photograph of the little den where I am now writing, and the rustic adornings which make it sui generis, and the bit of woods to be seen from its windows, that, taking the lead of all other Dorset woods, have put on floral colors, just because they are ours and know we want them looking their best before we go away. But this wish must yield to fate, like many another; and, as I have come to the end of my paper, I will love and leave you.

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The Story Lizzie Told. Country and City. The Law of Christian Progress. Letters to a Friend bereft of three Children. Sudden Death of another Friend. "Go on; step faster." Fenelon and his Influence upon her religious Life. Lines on her Indebtedness to him.

The Story Lizzie Told was published about this time. It had already appeared in the Riverside Magazine. The occasion of the story was a passage in a letter from London written by a friend, which described in a very graphic and touching way the yearly exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of Window Gardening among the Poor. The exhibition was held at the "Dean's close" at Westminster and the Earl of Shaftesbury gave the prizes. [9]

No one of Mrs. Prentiss's smaller works, perhaps, has been so much admired as The Story Lizzie Told. It was written at Dorset in the course of a single day, if not at a single sitting; and so real was the scene to her imagination that, on reading it in the evening to her husband, she had to stop again and again from the violence of her emotion. "What a little fool I am!" she would say, after a fresh burst of tears. [10]

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Oct. 16, 1870.

Your letter came in the midst of the wear and tear of A.'s return to us. We were kept in suspense about her from Monday, when she was due, till, Friday when she came, and it is years since I have got so excited and wrought up. They had a dreadful passage, but she was not sick at all. Prof. Smith is looking better than I ever saw him, and we are all most happy in being together once more. I can truly re-echo your wish that you lived half way between us and Dorset, for then we should see you once a year at least. I miss you and long to see you. How true it is that each friend has a place of his own that no one else can fill! I do not doubt that the 13th of October was a silvery wedding-day to your dear husband. His loss has made Christ dearer to you, and so has made your union more perfect. I suppose you were never so much one as you are now.

We have had a delightful summer, not really suffering from the heat; though, of course, we felt it more or less. All our nights were cool.... I can not tell you how Mr. P. and myself enjoy our country home. It seems as if we had slipped into our proper nook. But if we are going to do any more brainwork, we must be where there is stimulus, such as we find here. What a mixed-up letter! I have almost forgotten how to write, in adorning my house and sowing my seeds and the like.

To Mrs. Frederick Field, New York, Oct. 19th, 1870.

I deeply appreciate the Christian kindness that prompted you to write me in the midst of your sorrow. I was prepared for the sad news by a dream only last night. I fancied myself seeing your dear little boy lying very restlessly on his bed, and proposing to carry him about in my arms to relieve him. He made no objection, and I walked up and down with him a long, long time, when some one of the family took him from me. Instantly his face was illumined by a wondrous smile of delight that he was to leave the arms of a stranger to go to those familiar to him—such a smile, that when I awoke this morning I said to myself, "Eddy Field has gone to the arms of his Saviour, and gone gladly." You can imagine how your letter, an hour or two later, touched me. But you have better consolation than dreams can give; in the belief that your child will develop, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, into the perfect likeness of Christ, and in your own submission to the unerring will of God. I sometimes think that patient sufferers suffer most; they make less outcry than others, but the grief that has little vent wears sorely.

"Grace does not steel the faithful heart That it should feel no ill,"

and you have many a pang yet before you. It must be so very hard to see twin children part company, to have their paths diverge so soon. But the shadow of death will not always rest on your home; you will emerge from its obscurity into such a light as they who have never sorrowed can not know. We never know, or begin to know, the great Heart that loves us best, till we throw ourselves upon it in the hour of our despair. Friends say and do all they can for us, but they do not know what we suffer or what we need; but Christ, who formed, has penetrated the depths of the mother's heart. He pours in the wine and the oil that no human hand possesses, and "as one whom his mother comforteth, so will He comfort you." I have lived to see that God never was so good to me as when He seemed most severe. Thus I trust and believe it will be with you and your husband. Meanwhile, while the peaceable fruits are growing and ripening, may God help you through the grievous time that must pass—a grievous time in which you have my warm sympathy. I know only too well all about it.

"I know my griefs; but then my consolations, My joys, and my immortal hopes I know"—

joys unknown to the prosperous, hopes that spring from seed long buried in the dust.

I shall read your books with great interest, I am sure, and who knows how God means to prepare you for future usefulness along the path of pain? "Every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

What an epitaph your boy's own words would be—"It is beautiful to be dead"!

To the Same, New York, Nov 30th, 1870.

I thank you so much for your letter about your precious children. I remember them well, all three, and do not wonder that the death of your first-born, coming upon the very footsteps of sorrow, has so nearly crushed you. But what beautiful consolations God gave you by his dying bed! "All safe at God's right hand!" What more can the fondest mother's heart ask than such safety as this? I am sure that there will come to you, sooner or later, the sense of Christ's love in these repeated sorrows, that in your present bewildered, amazed state you can hardly realise. Let me tell you that I have tried His heart in a long storm—not so very different from yours—and that I know something of its depths. I will enclose you some lines that may give you a moment's light. Please not to let them go out of your hands, for no one—not even my husband—has ever seen them. I am going to send my last book to your lonely little boy. You will not feel like reading it now, but perhaps the 33d chapter, and some that follow, may not jar upon you as the earlier part would.

To go back again to the subject of Christ's love for us, of which I never tire, I want to make you feel that His sufferers are His happiest, most favored disciples. What they learn about Him—-His pitifulness, His unwillingness to hurt us, His haste to bind up the very wounds He has inflicted—-endear Him so, that at last they burst out into songs of thanksgiving, that His "donation of bliss" included in it such donation of pain. Perhaps I have already said to you, for I am fond of saying it,

"The love of Jesus—-what it is, Only His sufferers know."

You ask if your heart will ever be lightsome again. Never again with the lightsomeness that had never known sorrow, but light even to gayety with the new and higher love born of tribulation. Just as far as a heavenly is superior even to maternal love, will be the elevation and beauty of your new joy; a joy worth all it costs. I know what sorrow means; I know it well. But I know, too, what it is to pass out of that prison-house into a peace that passes all understanding; and thousands can say the same. So, my dear suffering sister, look on and look up; lay hold on Christ with both your poor, empty hands; let Him do with you what seemeth Him good; though He slay you, still trust in Him; and I dare in His name to promise you a sweeter, better life than you could have known had He left you to drink of the full, dangerous cups of unmingled prosperity. I feel such real and living sympathy with you, that I would love to spend weeks by your side, trying to bind up your broken heart. But for the gospel of Christ, to hear of such bereavements as yours would appall, would madden one. Yet, what a halo surrounds that word "but"!

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Dec 14, 1870.

I have not behaved according to my wont, and visited the sick even by way of a letter. And by this time I hope you are quite well again, and do not need ghostly counsels.... I have felt very badly about Miss Lyman's dying at Vassar, but since Mrs. S.'s visit and learning how beloved she is there, have changed my mind. What does it matter, after all, from what point of time or space we go home; how we shall smile, after we get there, that we ever gave it one moment's thought! You ask what I am doing; well, I am taking a vacation and not writing anything to speak of, yet just as busy as ever; not one moment in which to dawdle, though I dare say I seem to the folks here at home to be sitting round doing nothing. I must give you a picture of one day and you must photograph one of yours, as we have done before. Got up at seven and went through the usual forms; had prayers and breakfast, and started off to school with M. Came home and had a nice quiet time reading, etc.; at eleven went to my meeting, which was a tearful one, as one of our members who knelt with us only a week before, was this day to be buried out of our sight. She was at church on Sunday afternoon at four P.M., to present her baby in baptism, and at half-past two the following morning was in heaven. We all went together to the funeral after the meeting, and gathered round the coffin with the feeling that she belonged to us. When I got home I found a despatch from Miss W., saying they should be here right away. I had let one of my women go out of town to a sick sister, so I must turn chamber-maid and make the bed, dust, clear out closet, cupboard, and bureau forthwith. This done, they arrived, which took the time till half-past seven, when I excused myself and went to an evening meeting, knowing it would be devoted to special prayer for the husband and children of her who had gone. Got home half an hour behind time and found a young man awaiting me who was converted last June, as he hopes, while reading Stepping Heavenward. I had just got seated by him when our doctor was announced; he had lost his only grandchild and had come to talk about it. He stayed till half-past nine, when I went back to my young friend, who stayed till half-past ten and gave a very interesting history which I have not time to put on paper. He writes me since, however, about his Christian life that "it gets sweeter and sweeter," and I know you will be glad for me that I have this joy.

Saturday Morning.—I was interrupted there, had visitors, had to go to a fair, company again, so that I had not time to eat the food I needed, went to see a poor sick girl, had more visitors, and at last, at eleven P.M., scrambled into bed. Now I am finishing this, and if nobody hinders, am going to mail it, and then go after a block of ice-cream for that sick girl (isn't it nice, we can get it now done up in little boxes, just about as much as an invalid can eat at one time). Then I am going to see a poor afflicted soul that can't get any light on her sorrow. Here comes my dear old man to read his sermon, so good-bye.

To a young Friend, Dec. 20, 1870.

I have been led, during the last month or two, to a new love of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps to more consciousness of the silent, blessed work He is doing in and for us? and for those whose souls lie as a heavy and yet a sweet burden upon our own. And joining with you in your prayers, seeking also for myself what I sought for you, I found myself almost startled by such a response as I can not describe. It was not joy, but a deep solemnity which enfolded me as with a garment, and if I ever pass out of it, which I never want to do, I hope it will be with a heart more than ever consecrated and set apart for Christ's service. The more I reflect and the more I pray, the more life narrows down to one point—What am I being for Christ, what am I doing for Him? Why do I tell you this? Because the voice of a fellow-traveller always stimulates his brother-pilgrim; what one finds and speaks of and rejoices over, sets the other upon determining to find too. God has been very good to you, as well as to me, but we ought to whisper to each other now and then, "Go on, step faster, step surer, lay hold on the Rock of Ages with both hands." You never need be afraid to speak such words to me. I want to be pushed on, and pulled on, and coaxed on.

The allusion to her "beloved Fenelon," in several of the preceding letters, renders this a suitable place to say a word about him and his influence upon her religious character. "Fenelon I lean on," she wrote. Her delight in his writings dated back more than a quarter of a century, and continued, unabated, to the end of her days. She regarded him with a sort of personal affection and reverence. Her copy of "Spiritual Progress," composed largely of selections from his works, is crowded with pencil-marks expressive of her sympathy and approval; not even her Imitation of Christ, Sacra Privata, Pilgrim's Progress, Saints' Everlasting Rest, or Leighton on the First Epistle of Peter, contain so many. These pencil-marks are sometimes very emphatic, underscoring or inclosing now a single word, now a phrase, anon a whole sentence or paragraph; and it requires but little skill to decipher, in these rude hieroglyphics, the secret history of her soul for a third of a century— one side, at least, of this history. What she sought with the greatest eagerness, what she most loved and most hated, her spiritual aims, struggles, trials, joys and hopes, may here be read between the lines. And a beautiful testimony they give to the moral depth, purity and nobleness of her piety!

The story is not, indeed, complete; her religious life had other elements, not found, or only partially found, in Fenelon; elements centering directly in Christ and His gospel, and which had their inspiration in her Daily Food and her New Testament. What attracted her to Fenelon was not the doctrine of salvation as taught by him—she found it better taught in Bunyan and Leighton—it was his marvellous knowledge of the human heart, his keen insight into the proper workings of nature and grace, his deep spiritual wisdom, and the sweet mystic tone of his piety. And then the two great principles pervading his writings—that of pure love to God and that of self-crucifixion as the way to perfect love—fell in with some of her own favorite views of the Christian life. In the study of Fenelon, as of Madame Guyon, her aim was a purely practical one; it was not to establish, or verify, a theory, but to get aid and comfort in her daily course heavenward. What Fenelon was to her in this respect she has herself recorded in the following lines, found, after her death, written on a blank page of her "Spiritual Progress":

Oh wise and thoughtful words! oh counsel sweet, Guide in my wanderings, spurs unto my feet, How often you have met me on the way, And turned me from the path that led astray; Teaching that fault and folly, sin and fall, Need not the weary pilgrim's heart appall; Yea more, instructing how to snatch the sting From timid conscience, how to stretch the wing From the low plane, the level dead of sin, And mount immortal, mystic joys to win. One hour with Jesus! How its peace outweighs The ravishment of earthly love and praise; How dearer far, emptied of self to lie Low at His feet, and catch, perchance, His eye, Alike content when He may give or take, The sweet, the bitter, welcome for His sake!

[1] John Wesley, after having pointed out what he considered the grand source of all her mistakes; namely, the being guided by inward impressions and the light of her own spirit rather than by the written Word, and also her error in teaching that God never purifies a soul but by inward and outward suffering—then adds: "And yet with all this dross how much pure gold is mixed! So did God wink at involuntary ignorance. What a depth of religion did she enjoy! How much of the mind that was in Christ Jesus! What heights of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost! How few such instances do we find of exalted love to God, and our neighbor; of genuine humility; of invincible meekness and unbounded resignation! So that, upon the whole, I know not whether we may not search many centuries to find another woman who was such a pattern of true holiness."

[2] See the lines MY CUP RUNNETH OVER, Golden Hours, p. 43.

[3] "I know of no book, the Bible excepted as above all comparison, which I, according to my judgment and experience, could so safely recommend as teaching and enforcing the whole saving truth according to the mind that was in Christ Jesus, as the Pilgrim's Progress. It is, in my conviction, incomparably the best summa theologiae evangelicae ever produced by a writer not miraculously inspired. I read it once as a theologian—and let me assure you, there is great theological acumen in the work—once with devotional feelings, and once as a poet. I could not have believed beforehand that Calvinism could be painted in such exquisitely delightful colors."—COLERIDGE.

[4] The allusion is to Thekla's song in Part I., Act iii., sc. 7 of Schiller's Wallenstein.

Du Heilige, rufe dein Kind zurueck! Ich habe genossen das irdische Glueck, Ich habe gelebt und gelibet.

[5] The hymn referred to is Paul Gerhardt's, beginning:

Wir singen dir, Immanuel, Du Lebensfuerst und Gnadenquell.

It was one of her favorite German hymns. The lines she quotes belong to the tenth stanza; "Ich kann nicht sagen Der Will ist da," are the words pencilled in the margin.

[6] Hartley Coleridge's Poems. Vol. II., p. 139.

[7] But greatly to Mrs. Prentiss' annoyance, with the title changed to Ever Heavenward—as if to make it appear to be a sequel to Stepping Heavenward.

[8] Wife of the late Rev. Horatio Brinsmade, D.D., of Newark, N. J.

[9] "Polly" was particularly happy; six years old, I should say, shabby, though evidently washed up for the occasion, and very pretty and all pink with excitement. "Polly, I knowed you'd get a prize," I heard a young woman, tired out with carrying her own big baby, say. And then she came upon her own geranium with three blossoms on it and marked "Second Prize," and said, "I can't believe it," when they told her that that meant six shillings. But the plant which my companion and myself both cried over, was a little bit of a weedy marigold, the one poor little flower on it carefully fastened about with a paper ring, such as high and mighty greenhouse men sometimes put round a choice rose in bud. That was all; just this one common, very single little flower, with "Lizzie" Something's name attached and the name of her street. All the streets were put upon the tickets and added greatly to the pathetic effect; just the poorest lanes and alleys in London. Nobody seemed to claim the marigold. Perhaps it was the great treasure of some sick child who couldn't come to look at it. It was certain not to get a prize, but the child has found something by this time tucked down in the pot and carefully covered over by F., when no one was looking, with a pinch of earth taken from a more prosperous plant alongside.

[10] Miss W. showed me a very pleasant letter of Lady Augusta Stanley, the wife of Dean Stanley, to a Miss C., through whom she received from Miss W.'s little niece a copy of The Story Lizzie Told. Lady Stanley is herself, I believe, at the head of the Society which holds the annual Flower Show. She says in her letter that she had just returned from Scotland, reaching home quite late in the evening. Before retiring, however, she had read your story through. She praises it very warmly, and wonders how anybody but a "Londoner" could have written it.—Letter to Mrs. P., dated New York, September, 1872.



The letters in the preceding chapters give a glimpse, here and there, of Mrs. Prentiss' home, but relate chiefly to the religious side of her character. What was her manner of life among her children? How were her temper and habits as a mother affected by the ardor and intensity of her Christian feeling? A partial answer to these questions is contained in letters written to her eldest daughter, while the latter was absent in Europe. These letters show the natural side of her character; and although far from reflecting all its light and beauty—no words could do that!—they depict some of its most interesting traits. They are frankness itself and betray not the least respect of persons; but if she speaks her mind in them without much let or hindrance, it is always done in the pleasantest way. In the portions selected for publication the aim has been to let her be seen, so far as possible, just as she appeared in her daily home-life, both in town and country.


Home-life in New York.

New York, October 22, 1869.

I have promised to walk to school with M. this morning, and while I am waiting for her to get ready, will begin my letter to you. We got home from seeing you off all tired out, and I lay on the sofa all the time till I went to bed, except while eating my dinner, and I think papa did pretty much the same. The moment we had done dinner, H. and Jane appeared, carrying your bureau drawer between them, and we had a great time over the presents you were thoughtful enough to leave behind you. My little sacque makes me look like 500 angels instead of one, and I am ever so glad of it, and the children were all delighted with their things.

Well, I have escorted M. to school, come home and read the Advance, and Hearth and Home, and it is now eleven o'clock and the door-bell has only rung twice! Papa says you are out of sight of land, and as it is a warm day and we are comfortable, we hope you are. But it is dreadful to have to wait so long before hearing.

23d.—Papa says this must be mailed by nine o'clock; so I have hurried up from breakfast to finish it. Mr. and Mrs. S. spent most of last evening with us. They shouted over my ferrotypes. Mr.—— also called and expressed as much surprise at your having gone to Europe as if the sky had fallen. I read my sea-journal to the children last evening, and though it is very flat and meagre in itself, H., to whom it was all brand new, thought it ought to be published forthwith. No time for another word but love to all the S.'s, big and little, high and low, great and small. Your affectionate Mammy.

Oct. 28th.—I can hardly believe that it is only a week today that we saw you and your big steamer disappear from view. H. said last night that it seemed to him one hundred years ago, and we all said amen. So how do you suppose it will seem ten months hence? I hope you do not find the time so long. I take turns waiting upon the children to school, which they are very strict about, and they enjoy their teachers amazingly.

I received this morning a very beautiful and touching letter from a young lady in England about the Susy books. They are associated in her mind and those of her family with a "Little Pearlie" whose cunning little photograph she enclosed, who taught herself to read in a fortnight from one of them, and was read to from it on her dying bed, and after she became speechless she made signs to have her head wet as Susy's was. I never received such a letter among all I have had. Randolph sent me twelve copies of Stepping Heavenward, and I have had my hands full packing and sending them. M. is reading aloud to H. a charming story called "Alone in London." I am sure I could not read it aloud without crying.

The following is the letter from England:


I feel as if I had a perfect right to call you "My dear friend," so much have I thought of you this last year and a half. Bear with me while I tell you why. A year ago last Christmas we were a large family—father, mother, and eight children, of whom I, who address you, am the eldest. The youngest was of course the pet, our bright little darling, rather more than five. That Christmas morning, of course, there were gifts for all; and among the treasures in the smallest stocking was a copy of "Little Susy's Six Teachers," for which I desire to thank you now. Many times I have tried to do so, but I could not; the trouble which came upon us was too great and awful in its suddenness. Little Pearl, so first called in the days of a fragile babyhood—Dora Margaret was her real name—taught herself to read from her "Little Susy," during the first fortnight she had it. And she would sit for hours, literally, amusing and interesting herself by it. She talked constantly of the Six Teachers, and a word about them was enough to quell any rising naughtiness. "Pearlie, what would Mr. Ought say?" or "Don't grieve Mrs. Love," was always sufficient. Do you know what it is to have one the youngest in a large family? My darling was seventeen years younger than I. I left school when she was born to take the oversight of the nursery, which dear mamma's illness and always delicate health prevented her from doing. I had nursed her in her illnesses, dressed her, made the little frocks—now laid so sadly by—and to all the rest of us she had been more like a child than a sister. Friends used to say, "It is a wonder that child is not spoiled"; but they could never say she was. Merry, full of life and fun she always was, quick and intelligent, full of droll sayings which recur to us now with such a pain. From Christmas to the end of February we often remarked to one another how good that child was! laughing and playing from morning to night, yet never unruly or wild. That February we had illness in the house. Jessie, the next youngest, had diphtheria, but she recovered, and we trusted all danger was passed, when one Monday evening—the last in the month—our darling seemed ill. The next day we recognised the symptoms we had seen in Jessie, and the doctor was called in. Tuesday and Wednesday he came and gave no hint of danger, but on Wednesday night we perceived a change and on Thursday came the sentence: No hope. Oh friend, dear friend! how can I tell you of the long hours when we could not help our darling—of the dark night when, forbidden the room from the malignity of the case, we went to bed to coax mamma to do so—of the grey February dawn when there came the words, "Our darling is quite well now"—quite well, forever taken from the evil to come.

The Sunday night before, she came into the parlor with "Susy" under her arm and petitioned for some one to read the "Teachers' meeting." "Why, you read it twice this afternoon," said one. "Yes, I know—but it's so nice," was the reply. "Pearlie will be six in September," said the gentle mother; "we must have a Teachers' meeting for her, I think." "But perhaps I sha'n't ever be six," said the little one. "Oh Pearlie, why do you say so?" "Well, people don't all be six, you know," affirmed our darling with solemn eyes and two dimples in the rosy cheeks, that were hid forever from us before the next Sabbath day.

On the Wednesday we borrowed from a little friend the other books of the series, thinking they might afford some amusement for the weary hours of illness, and Annie, my next sister, read four of the birthdays to her and then wished to stop, fearing she might be too fatigued. "No, read one more," was the request, and "That will do—I'm five, read the last to-morrow," she said, when it was complied with. Ah me! with how many tears we took up that book again. That Wednesday she sat up in bed, a glass of medicine in her hand. "Mamma," she said, "Miss Joy has gone quite away and only left Mr. Pain. She can't come back till my throat is well." "But Mrs. Love is here, is she not?" "Oh, yes," and the dear heavy eyes turned from one to another. In the night, when she lay dying, came intervals of consciousness; in one of these she took her handkerchief and gave it to papa, who watched by her, asking him to wet it and put it on her head. When he told us, we recollected the incident when Susy in the favorite book was ill. And can you understand how our hearts felt very tender toward you and we said you must be thanked. I should weary you if I told you all the incidents that presented themselves of how sweet and good she was in her illness; how in the agony of those last hours, when no fear of infection could restrain the passionate kisses papa was showering on her, the dear voice said with a stop and an effort between each word, "Don't kiss me on my mouth, papa; you may catch it"; how everything she asked for was prefaced by "please," how self was always last in her thoughts. "I'm keeping you awake, you darling." "Don't stand there—you'll be so tired—sit down or go down-stairs, if you like."

I will send you a photograph of little Pearlie; it is the best we have, but was taken when she was only two years old. She was very small for her age and had been very delicate until the last year of her life.

In writing thus to thank you I am not only doing an act of justice to yourself, but fulfilling wishes now rendered binding. Often and often my dear mamma said, "How I wish we knew the lady who wrote Little Susy!" Her health, always delicate, never recovered from the shock of Pearlie's death, and suddenly, on the morning of the first of May, the Angel of Death darkened our dwelling with the shadow of his wings. Not long did he linger—only two hours—and our mother had left us. She was with her treasure and the Saviour, who said so lovingly on earth, "Come unto Me."

But words can not express such trouble as that. We have not realised it yet. Forgive me if my letter is abrupt and confused. I have only desired to tell you simply the simple tale—if by any chance it should make you thank God more earnestly for the great gift He has given you—a holy gift indeed; for can you think the lessons from "Susy," so useful and so loved on earth, could be suddenly forgotten when the glories of heavens opened on our darling's view? I can not myself. I think, perhaps, our Father's home may be more like our human ones, where His love reigns, than our wild hearts allow themselves to imagine; and I think the two, on whose behalf I thank you now, may one day know you and thank you themselves.

Dear "Aunt Susan," believe me to be, your unknown yet grateful friend,


Mrs. Prentiss at once answered this letter, and not long after received another from Miss L——, dated January 9, 1870, breathing the same grateful feeling and full of interesting details. The following is an extract from it:

I was so surprised, dear unknown friend, to receive your kind letter so soon. Indeed, I hardly expected a reply at all. When I wrote to you, I did not know that I was addressing a daughter of the "Edward Payson" whose name is fragrant even on this side of the Atlantic. Had I known it I think I should not have ventured to write—so I am glad I did not. If you should be able to write again, and have a carte-de-visite to spare, may I beg it, that I may form some idea of the friend, "old enough to be my mother"? Are you little and slight, like my real mother, I wonder, or stately and tall? I will send you a photograph of the monument which the ladies of papa's church and congregation have erected to dear mamma, in our beautiful cemetery, where the snowdrops will be already peeping, and where roses bloom for ten months out of the twelve.

Nov. 3d.—Here beginneth letter No. 3. We heard of your arrival at Southampton by a telegram last evening. We long to get a letter. Before I forget it let me tell you that Alice H. and Julia W. have both got babbies. We are getting nicely settled for the winter; the children are all behaving beautifully.

Saturday, 6th.—Well, I have just been to see Mrs. F., and found her a bright, frank young thing, fresh and simple and very pleasing. Her complexion is like M——'s, and the lower part of her face is shaped like hers, dark eyebrows, light hair, splendid teeth, and I suppose would be called very pretty by you girls. Take her altogether I liked her very much. We hear next to nothing from Stepping Heavenward, and begin to think it is going to fall dead.

Monday, 14th.—Your Southampton letter has just come and we are delighted to hear that you had such a pleasant voyage, and found so many agreeable people on board.... Yesterday afternoon was devoted to hearing a deeply interesting description from Dr. Hatfield, followed by Mr. Dodge, of the re-union of the two Assemblies at Pittsburgh. Dr. H. made us all laugh by saying that as the New School entered the church where they were to be received and united to the Old School, the latter rose and sang "Return, ye ransomed sinners, home!" Oh, I don't know but it was just the other way; it makes no great difference, for as Dr. H. remarked, "we're all ransomed sinners."

Nov. 30th.—Mr. Abbot dined here on Sunday. He came in again in the evening, and it would have done you good to hear what he said about the children. They are all well and happy, and give me very little trouble. I do not feel so well on the late dinner, and have awful dreams.——I was passing the C——s, after writing the above, and she called me in to see her new parlors. They are beautiful; a great deal of bright, rich coloring, and various articles of furniture of his own designing. Thursday.——You and M. will be shocked to hear that Julia W. died last night. As Mr. W. was at church on Sunday, we supposed all danger was over. We heard it through a telegram sent to your father.

December 4, 1869.—I need not tell you that we all remember that this is your birthday, dear child, and that the remembrance brings you very near. I wish I could send you, for a birthday present, all that I have, this morning, asked God to give you. You may depend upon it, that while some people may get along through life at a certain distance from Him, you are not one of that sort. You may find a feverish joy, but never abiding peace, out of Him. Remember this whenever you feel the oppression of that vague sense of unrest, of which, I doubt not, you have a great deal underneath a careless outside; this is the thirst of the soul for the only fountain at which it is worth while to drink. You never will be really happy till Christ becomes your dearest and most intimate friend. 7th.—We have had a tremendous fall of snow, and Culyer says M. ought to wait an hour before starting for school, but she is not willing and I am going with her to see that she is not buried alive. Good-bye again, dearie! Will begin a new letter right away.

Dec. 9th—We went to see Mrs. W. this afternoon. Julia had typhoid fever, which ran twenty-one days, and was delirious a good deal of the time. She got ready to die before her confinement, though she said she expected to live. After she became so very ill Mrs. W. heard her praying for something "for Christ's sake," "for the sake of Christ's sufferings," and once asked her what it was she was asking for so earnestly. "Oh, to get well for Edward's sake and the baby's," she replied. A few days before her death she called Mrs. W. to "come close" to her, and said, "I am going to die. I did not think so when baby was born, dear little thing—but now it is impressed upon me that I am." Mrs. W. said they hoped not, but added, "Yet suppose you should die, what then?" "Oh I have prayed, day and night, to be reconciled, and I am, perfectly so. God will take care of Edward and of my baby. Perhaps it is better so than to run the risk—" She did not finish the sentence. The baby looks like her. Mrs. W. told her you had gone to Europe with M., and she expressed great pleasure; but if she had known where she was going, and to what, all she would have done would have been to give thanks "for Christ's sake." I do not blame her, however, for clinging to life; it was natural she should.

10th—We went, last evening, to hear Father Hyacinthe lecture on "Charite" at the Academy of Music. I did not expect to understand a word, but was agreeably disappointed, as he spoke very distinctly. Still I did not enjoy hearing as well as I did reading it this morning—for I lost some of the best things in a really fine address. It was a brilliant scene, the very elite of intellectual society gathered around one modest, unpretentious little man. Dr. and Mrs. Crosby were in the box with us, and she, fortunately, had an opera glass with her, so that we had a chance to study his really good face. The only book I expect to write this winter is to you; I am dreadfully lazy since you left, and don't do anything but haze about. There is a good deal of lively talk at the table; the children are waked up by going to school, and there is some rivalry among them, each maintaining that his and hers is the best.

Dec. 15th.—We have cards for a "Soiree musicale" at Mrs. ——'s, which is to be a great smash-up. She called here to-day and wept and wailed over and kissed me. I have been to see how Mrs. C. is. She is a little worse to-day, and he and her father scarcely leave her. He wrung my hand all to pieces, poor man. Her illness is exciting great sympathy in our church, and nobody seems willing to let her go. Dr. Adams spent last evening here. He is splendid company; I really wish he would come once a week. Everybody is asking if I meant in Katy to describe myself. I have no doubt that if I should catch an old toad, put on to her a short gown and petticoat and one of my caps, everybody would walk up to her and say, "Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Prentiss, you look more like yourself than common; I recognise the picture you have drawn of yourself in Stepping Heavenward and in the Percys," etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam. The next book I write I'll make my heroine black and everybody will say, "Oh, here you are again, black to the life!"

Dec. 18th.—You and M. will not be surprised to hear that Mrs. C.'s sufferings are over. She died this morning. Papa and I are greatly shaken. With much hesitation I decided to go over there to see her mother, and the welcome I got from her and from Mr. C. are things to remember for a life-time. I will never hesitate again to fly to people in trouble. If you were here I would tell you all about my visit, but I can't write it down. It seems so sad, just as they had got into their lovely new home—sad for him, I mean; as for her I can only wish her joy that she is not weeping here below as he is. I stayed till it was time for church, and when I entered it I was met by many a tearful face; papa announced her death from the pulpit, and is going, this afternoon, to throw aside the sermon he intended to preach, and extemporise on "the first Sunday in heaven." The children are going in, this noon, to sing; as to the Mission festival, that is to be virtually given up; the children are merely to walk in, receive their presents, and go silently out. It is a beautiful day to go to heaven in. Mrs. C. did not know she was going to die, but that is of no consequence. Only one week ago yesterday she was at the Industrial school, unusually bright and well, they all say. Well, I see everything double and had better stop writing.

Monday, 20th.—Your nice letter was in the letter-box as I started for school with H.; I called to papa to let him know it was there and went off, begrudging him the pleasure of reading it before I did. When I got home there was no papa and no letter to be found; I looked in every room, on his desk and on mine, posted down to the letter-box and into the parlor, in vain. At last he came rushing home with it, having carried it to market, lest I should get and read it alone! So we sat down and enjoyed it together.... I take out your picture now and then, when, lo, a big lump in my throat, notwithstanding which I am glad we let you go; we enjoy your enjoyment, and think it will make the old nest pleasanter to have been vacated for a while. Papa and I agreed before we got up this morning that the only fault we had to find with God was, that He was too good to us. I can't get over the welcome I got from Mr. C. yesterday. He said I seemed like a mother to him, which made me feel very old on the one hand, and very happy on the other. If I were you I wouldn't marry anybody but a minister; it gives one such lots of people to love and care for. Old Mrs. B. is failing, and lies there as peaceful and contented as a little baby. I never got sweeter smiles from anybody. I have got each of the servants a pretty dress for Christmas; I feel that I owe them a good deal for giving me such a peaceful, untroubled home.

Dec. 23d.—It rained very hard all day yesterday till just about the time of the funeral, half-past three, when the church was well filled, the Mission-school occupying seats by themselves and the teachers by themselves.... I thought as I listened to the address that it would reconcile me to seeing you lying there in your coffin, if such a record stood against your name. Papa read, at the close, a sort of prophetic poem of Mrs. C.'s, which she wrote a year or more ago, of which I should like to send you all a copy, it is so good in every sense. He wants me to send you a few hasty lines I scribbled off on Sunday noon, with which he closed his sermon that afternoon, and repeated again at the funeral, but it is not worth the ink. After the service the mission children went up to look at the remains, and passed out; then the rest of the congregation. One of the mission children fainted and fell, and was carried out in Mr. L.'s arms. After the rest dispersed papa took me in, and there we saw a most touching sight; a dozen poor women and children weeping about the coffin, offering a tribute to her memory, sweeter than the opulent display of flowers did. Evening.—The interment took place to-day, at Woodlawn. Mr. C. wished me to go, and I did. On the way home a gentlemanly-looking man stepped up to your father, and taking his hand said, "I never saw you till to-day, but I love you; yes, there is no other word!" Wasn't it nice of him?

Dec. 24th.—Papa went in last evening, for a half hour, to see —— and his bride, at their great reception, drank two glasses of "coffee sangaree," and brought me news that overcame me quite,—namely, that —— was delighted with my book. Nesbit & Co. sent me a copy of their reprint of it. They have got it up beautifully with six colored illustrations, most of them very good; little Earnest is as cunning as he can be, and the old grandpa is perfect. Katy, however, has her hair in a waterfall in the year 1835 and even after, wears long dresses, and always has on a sontag or something like one. She goes to see Dr. Cabot in a red sacque, and a red hat, and has a muff in her lap. Mrs. —— was here the other day to say that I had drawn her husband's portrait exactly in Dr. Elliot. I have been out with M. all the morning, doing up our last shopping. We came home half frozen, and had lunch together, when lo, a magnificent basket of flowers from Mrs. D. and some candy from the party; papa and G. came home and we all fell to making ourselves sick.... I have bought lots of candy and little fancy cakes to put in the children's stockings. I know it is very improper, but one can't be good always. Dr. P. is sick with pneumonia. Mrs. P. has just sent me a basket of fresh eggs, and an illustrated edition of Longfellow's "Building of the Ship."

25th.—I wish you a Merry Christmas, darling, and wonder what you are all doing to celebrate this day. We have had great times over our presents.... I got a note from Mr. Abbot saying that a friend of his in Boston had given away fourteen Katies, all he could get, and that the bookseller said he could have sold the last copy thirty times over. Neither papa nor I feel quite up to the mark to-day; we probably got a little cold at Mrs. C.'s grave, as the wind blew furiously, and the hymn, and prayer, and benediction took quite a time.

26th.—Dr. P. is worse. Papa has been to see him since church, and Dr. B., who was there, said that Dr. Murray quoted from Katy in his sermon to-day, and then pausing long enough to attract everybody's attention, he said he wished each of them to procure and read it. I hope you and Mrs. Smith won't get sick hearing about it; I assure you I don't tell you half I might. Evening.—Mr. C. has been here this evening to show us a poem by his wife, just come out in the January number of the Sabbath at Home, in which she asks the New Year what it has in store for her, and says if it is death, it is only going home the sooner. Neither he, or anyone, had seen it or heard of it, and it came to them with overwhelming power and consolation as the last utterance of her Christian faith. [1]

Dec. 30th, 1869.—Your letter came yesterday morning, after breakfast, and was read to an admiring audience of Prentisses by papa, who occasionally called for counsel as to this word and that. We like the plan made for the winter, and hope it will suit all round. You had such a grand birth-day that I don't see what there was left for Christmas, and hope you got nothing but a leather button. My Percys end to-day, and I am shocked at the wretched way in which I ended them. I wish you would buy a copy of Griseldis for me. Why don't you tell what you are reading? I got for M. "A Sister's Bye Hours," by Jean Ingelow, and find it a delightful book; such lots of quiet humor and so much good sense and good feeling; you girls would enjoy reading it aloud together.

Jan. 3d, 1870.—You will want to hear all about New Year's day, and where shall I begin unless at the end thereof, when your and Mrs. Smith's letters came, and which caused papa ungraciously to leave me to entertain, while he greedily devoured them and his dinner. In spite of rain we had a steady flow of visitors. I will enclose a list for your delectation, for as reading a cook-book sort of feeds one, reading familiar names sort of comforts one. Mr. —— was softer and more languishing than ever, and appeared like a man who had been fed on honey off the tips of a canary bird's feather.... Papa and I agreed, talking it over last evening, that it is a bad plan for husbands and wives not to live and die together, as the one who is left is apt to cut up. He hinted that I was "so fond of admiration" that he was afraid I should, if he died. On questioning him as to what he meant by this abominable speech, he said he meant to pay me a compliment!!! that he thought me very susceptible when people loved me and very fond of being loved—which I am by him; all other men I hate. My cousin G. dined with us on Friday and took me to the meeting held annually at Dr. Adams' church. I like him ever so much, though he is a man. G. has brought me in some dandelions from the church-yard. We have not had one day of severe cold yet, and there is a great deal of sickness about in consequence.

Friday.—I spent a part of last evening in writing an article about Mrs. C.'s poem for the Sabbath at Home, and have a little fit of indigestion as my reward. Have been to see my sick woman with jelly and consolation, and from there to Mrs. D., who gave me a beautiful account of Mrs. Coming's last days and of her readiness and gladness to go. I was at the meeting at Dr. Rogers' yesterday afternoon and heard old Dr. Tyng for the first time, and he spoke beautifully.... Well, Chi Alpha [2] is over; we had a very large attendance and the oysters were burnt. It is dreadfully trying when Maria never once failed before to have them so extra nice. Dr. Hall came and told me he had been sending copies of Fred and Maria and Me to friends in Ireland. Martha and Jane, and M. and H. were all standing in a row together when the parsons come out to tea, and one of them marched up to the row, saying to papa, Are these your children? when Martha and Jane made a precipitate retreat into the pantry. Good-night, darling; lots of love to Mrs. Smith and all of them. Your affectionate "Marm-er."

11th.—Yours came to-day, and papa and I had a brief duel with hair-pins and pen-knives as to which should read it aloud to the other, and I beat. I should have enjoyed Eigensinn, I am sure; you know I have read it in German.... The children all three are lovely, and what with them and papa and other things my cup is running over tremendously. I have just heard that a poor woman I have been to see a few times, died this morning. I always came away from her crestfallen, thinking I was the biggest poke in a sick-room there ever was, but she sent me a dying message that quite comforted me. She had once lived in plenty, but was fearfully destitute, and I fear she and her family suffered for want of common necessaries.

Thursday.—I had an early and a long call from one of our church, who wanted to tell me, among other things, that her husband scolded her for bumping her head in the night; she wept and I condoled; she went away at last smiling. Then I went to the sewing circle and idled about till one; then I had several calls. Then papa and I went out to make a lot of calls. Then came a note from a sick lady, whom I shall go to see in spite of my horror of strangers. Papa got a letter from Prof. Smith which gave us great pleasure. Z. was here yesterday; I asked her to stay to lunch, bribing her with a cup of tea, and so she stayed and we had a real nice time; when she went away I told her I was dead in love with her.

Friday Evening.—The children have all gone to bed; M. and G. have been reading all the evening; M. busy on Miss Alcott's "Little Women," and G. shaking his sides over old numbers of the Riverside. Papa says our house ought to have a sign put out, "Souls cured here"; because so many people come to tell their troubles. People used to do just so to my mother, and I suppose always do to parsons' wives if they'll let 'em.

Monday.—Papa preached delightfully yesterday. Mr. B. took a pew and Mr. I don't know who took another. Your letter came this morning and was full of interesting things. I hope Mrs. S. will send me her own and Jean Ingelow's verses. What fun to get into a correspondence with her! I have had an interesting time to-day. Dr. Skinner lent me some months ago a little book called "God's Furnace"; I didn't like it at first, but read it through several times and liked it better and better each time. And to-day Mrs. —— brought the author to spend a few hours (she lives out of town), and we three black-eyed women had a remarkable time together. There is certainly such a thing as a heaven below, only it doesn't last as the real heaven will. We had Mr. C. to tea last night; after tea he read us three poems of his wife, and papa was weak enough to go and read him some verses of mine, which he ought not to have done till I am dead and gone. Then he played and sang with the children, and we had prayers, and I read scraps to him and papa from Faber's "All for Jesus" and Craig's Memoir. M. is lying on the sofa studying, papa is in his study, the boys are hazing about; it snows a little and melts as it falls, and so, with love to all, both great and small, I am your loving "ELDERLY LADY WITH GREY PUFFS."

February 8th, 1870.—We are having a tremendous snow-storm for a wonder. I started out this morning with G., and when we got to the Fifth avenue clock he found he should be late unless he ran, and I was glad to let him go and turn back to meet M., who had heavy books besides her umbrella. The wind blew furiously, my umbrella broke and flew off in a tangent, and when I got it, it turned wrong side out and I came near ascending as in a balloon; M. soon came in sight and I convoyed her safely to school. Mrs. —— told a friend of ours that Mr. and Mrs. Prentiss really enjoyed Mrs. C——'s death, and they seemed destitute of natural affection; and that as for Mrs. P. it was plain she had never suffered in any way. Considering the tears we both shed over Mrs. C., and some other little items in our past history, we must set Mrs. —— down as wiser than the ancients.

Sunday Evening.—Yesterday Lizzy B. came to say that her mother was "in a gully" and wanted me to come and pull her out. I went and found her greatly depressed, and felt sure it was all physical, and not a case for special spiritual pulling. So I coaxed her, laughed at her, and cheered her all I could. She said she had been "a solemn pig" for a week, in allusion to some pictures Dr. P. had drawn for her and for me illustrating the solemn pig and the jolly pig. Mr. Randolph has sent up a letter from a man in Nice whose wife wants to translate Katy into French. I sent word they might translate it into Hottentot for all me. Good-night, my dear, I am sound asleep.

Your affectionate Mother PRENTISS.

Tuesday.—On Sunday papa preached a sermon in behalf of the Mission, asking for $35,000 to build a chapel, for which Mr. Cady had made a plan. I got greatly stirred up, as I hope everybody did. Mr. Dodge will give one-quarter of the sum needed. It is Washington's birthday, and the children are all at home from school, and are at the dining-room table drawing maps. Mr. and Mrs. G. called, but I was out seeing a poor woman, whose romance of love and sorrow I should like to tell you about if it would not fill a book. She says Bishop S. has supported her and her three children for seven months out of his own pocket.

Saturday, Feb. 26th.—Your two last letters, together with Mrs. Smith's, were all in the box as I was starting with M. for her music. My children pulled in opposite directions, but I pushed on, and papa saved the letters to read to me when I got back. He reads them awfully, and will puzzle over a word long enough for me to have leisure to go crazy and recover my sanity. However, nobody shall make fun of him save myself; so look out. The boys have gone skating to-day for the third time this winter, there has been so little cold weather.

Sunday Evening.—I did not mean to plague you with Stepping Heavenward any more, but we have had a scene to-day which will amuse you and Mrs. Smith. Just before service began, an aristocratic-looking lady seated in front of Mrs. B. began to talk to her, whereupon Mrs. B. turned round and announced to the congregation that I was the subject of it by pointing me out, and then getting up and bringing her to our pew. Once there, she seized me by the hand and said, "I am Mrs. ——. I have just read your book and been carried away with it. I knew your husband thirty-three years ago, and have come here to see you both," etc., etc. Finding she could get nothing out of me, she fell upon M., and asked her if I was her sister, which M. declared I was not. After church I invited her to step into the parsonage, and she stepped in for an hour and told this story: She had had the book lent her, and yesterday, lunching at Mrs. A.'s, asked her if she had read it, and finding she had not, made her promise to get it. She then asked who this E. Prentiss was, and a lady present enlightened her. "What! my sister's beloved Miss Payson, and married to George Prentiss, my old friend!! I'll go there to church to-morrow and see for myself." So it turns out that she was a Miss ——, of Mississippi; that your father gallanted her to Louisville, when she was going there to be married at sixteen years of age; that she was living in Richmond at the time I was teaching there, her sister boarding in the house with me. Such talking, such life and enthusiasm you never saw in a woman of forty-eight! "Well," she winds up at last, "I've found two treasures, and you needn't think I'm going to let you go. I'll go home and tell Mr. —— all about it." Papa and I have called each other "two treasures" ever since she went away. The whole scene worked him up and did him good, for he always loves to have his Southern friends drum him up and talk to him of your Uncle Seargent and Aunt Anna. Mr. —— is one of our millionaires, and she married him a year ago after thirteen years of widowhood. She says she still has 200 "negroes," who won't go away and won't work, and she has them to support. She talked very rationally about the war, and says not a soul at the South would have slavery back if they could.... I called at Mrs. B.'s yesterday—at exactly the right moment, she said; for five surgeons had just decided that the operation had been a failure, and that she must die. Her husband looked as white as this paper, and the girls were in great distress, but Mrs. B. looked perfectly radiant.

Saturday, March 5th.—Yesterday I went to make a ghostly call on Mrs. B., and kept her and the girls screaming with laughter for an hour, which did me lots of good, and I hope did not hurt them. I have written the 403d page of my serial to-day, and hope it is the last. It will soon be time to think of the spring shopping. I don't know what any of us need, and never notice what people are wearing unless I notice by going forth on a tour of observation.

Sunday Evening.—After church this afternoon Mrs. N. and Mrs. V. came in to tell us about the death of that servant of theirs, whom they nursed in their own house, who has been dying for seven months, of cancer. She died a most fearless, happy death, and I wish I knew I should be as patient in my last illness as they represent her as being. Your letters to the children came yesterday afternoon to their great delight. In an evil moment I told the boys that I had seen it stated, in some paper, that benzole would make paper transparent, and afterwards evaporate and leave the paper uninjured. They drove me raving distracted with questions about it, so that I had to be put in a strait-jacket. The ingenuity and persistence of these questions, asked by each, in separate interviews, was beyond description.

Tuesday.—For once I have been caught napping, and have not mailed my weekly letter. But you will be expecting some irregularity about the time of your flight to Berlin. I called at Mrs. M.'s to-day, and ran on at such a rate that Mrs. Woolsey, who was there, gave me ten dollars for poor folks, and said she wished I'd stay all day. Afterwards I went down town to get Stepping Heavenward for Mr. C., and as he wanted me to write something in it, have just written this: "Mr. C. from Mrs. Prentiss, in loving memory of one who 'did outrun' us, and stepped into heaven first." Mr. Bates showed me a half-column notice of it in the Liberal Christian, [3] of all places! by very far the warmest and best of all that have appeared. Papa is at Dr. McClintock's funeral. I declare, if it isn't snowing again, and the sun is shining! Now comes a letter from Uncle Charles, saying that your Uncle H. has lost that splendid little girl of his; the only girl he ever had, and the child of his heart of hearts. Mrs. W. says she never saw papa and myself look so well, but some gentleman told Mr. Brace, who told his wife, who told me, that I was killing myself with long walks. I can not answer your questions about Mr. ——'s call. So much is all the time going on that one event speedily effaces the impression of another.

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