Journal Letters: Introduction and Notes
Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
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Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., Sept. 23, 1875.DEAR FRIENDS:
We fancy you are wishing us "a happy new year" of school. We are sure that you often think of us here, in the same dear old home where you were wont to gather in former days; and that your prayers cease not to ask that grace, mercy, and peace may abide upon it still. It has seemed to us, especially since we came together three weeks ago, that those petitions are answered day by day. Our school is even more pleasant and prosperous than it is accustomed to be and we have many good gifts, newly come to us, of which we must tell you by and by.
The last journal closed a fortnight before Anniversary, and we must speak of a few items belonging to those last days of the school year. We bad Miss Ward with us all the term, little as we expected it at first ; and though her state of health prevented her often meeting the school together, she was almost constantly attending to Seminary business in her own room, or soliciting funds for the new building, in neighboring towns. Notwithstanding the " hard times," she succeeded in raising several thousand dollars, in the course of the term ; and most of this was obtained in comparatively small sums, so that it represents many donors. Miss Shattuck also labored effectively in this direction.
On Monday, June 21st, - the week before our term closed, - one of our men, Mr. Keyes, was drowned at Smitb's Ferry. He had been employed here for some eight years, and was a very faithful, obliging fellow, whose place will not be readily filled. Some of you will recognize him by his nickname of " the Doctor," which he had somehow acquired in his boyhood. The accident by which he lost his life was a rather remarkable one. He was driving down the river bank to the boat, with a load of brick for our building. The boat was not quite square to the bank, and the ferryman was trying to bring it into place, when the horse, apparently unable to hold back, (the bank being steep and the load heavy,) struck the edge of the boat with his forefeet and thus pushed it farther off. Instantly, the animal found himself struggling in deep water ; and, it seems, gave a fatal kick to his driver, who was still bravely holding to the lines. Keyes sank at once, and never rose ; it was not till the next day that his body was found. Several of the teachers attended his funeral, which was at his mother's house.
You already know the principal occurrences of our Anniversary week, doubtless, as one of the newspaper reports was enclosed with each copy of the last journal letter. We wish we could tell you how much we enjoyed it, especially the exercises of Anniversary day, in the tent. It was such a novelty to see our white-robed procession passing into the grassy field, instead of treading the dusty highway; and presently, after a little winding among the scattered trees, to find ourselves in the cool, airy tent, instead of a close and crowded church ! We could almost fancy ourselves at a picnic, there was such a feeling of freedom
about it. The tent was spread east of the library, and we sat facing the south, with the new building some little distance to our left, and the library to the right. The settees for the audience, as well as the stand for the speaker, had been carefully arranged, and everybody had a comfortable place. The weather was delightfully cool that day, although it had been hot on Wednesday; and we had not even the trouble of fanning ourselves while we listened. Professor Seelye seemed in his happiest mood ; and his address, delivered without so much as a scrap of paper before him, was quite beyond praise. Everything was so delightful that we almost wished we could have our closing exercises in a tent every year.
You will like to know that we had a gift that week, from our friend Mr. Eddy, of Fall River, which would be regarded with very great interest by you all. It was the portrait of his late wife, formerly Miss Whitman, who was so long associated with Miss Lyon. It is a fine painting, recently done, and represents her as she was in middle life. Those here who knew her then, consider it a good likeness ; and we are very glad to have it for the seminary hall.
The long vacation was full of business in the way of improvements and repairs. While the walls of the new building were rising, another boiler-house was erected, near the old one; which you remember, is just behind the gymnasium. As it had been decided to warm the new building by steam, as well as to supply steam for cooking, additional boilers were required; and many changes were made in other parts of the heating apparatus, at the same time. Miss Ward, who remained here during the greater part of the vacation, gave much thought to improvements in various quarters, and especially in the domestic department. If you could go with us through the basement, you would notice almost everywhere that somebody had been studying how to economize time and strength and steps, in doing the family work. Probably you will exclaim, as we did, " How strange that this or that had not been thought of long ago! " Miss Ward replies that it was only for want of time to think of it. Our trustees, Mr. Williston and Mr. Sawyer, have taken great interest in helping to bring about the various improvements desired; and have even devised some for which we bad not asked. One change in which we greatly rejoice is the making of the lattice before the basement windows much more open than it used to be; thus giving additional light to the dining and domestic halls. Indeed, the general aspect of the latter is pleasanter in many respects ; it seems more cheerful, more spacious, more attractive in every way, besides being beyond comparison more convenient. There is the great brick oven in the corner next the cbina closet ; it bakes seventy loaves at once ; and is hot the twenty-four hours round, with burning one bushel of coal. Our faithful Cornelius, whose former tasks are greatly lessened by the introduction of steam, tends it, putting in and taking out, under the matron's direction, whatever is baked. On the opposite side of the ball, you will notice half a dozen large new boilers, where all the boiling or steaming is done, with much less time and trouble than used to be required. There are various minor improvements, which we have not time to describe ; the soapstone sinks for washing dislies, with faucets for supplying hot and cold water to every compartment, the apparatus for broiling, the steam-heated oven for keeping food warm
and the speaking-tubes for communicating with the business-room. If you go upstairs, vou will at once observe the new floors of southern pine in the balls of the first and second stories of the main building ; and more than all, the wide, two-leaved door in the center of the north end of the seminary hall. This, as you will readily understand, is a great relief, when we have five or six hundred persons in the hall, as we usually do or) Sundays, at present. The new church is making good progress, but it cannot be ready for use before winter ; and till then, the service will continue to be held here.
We had fine bright weather, as warm as summer, for the opening of the term. The abundant rains of August had freshened the grass and foliage ; and we could almost have fancied that it was June. It was pleasant to find that we numbered more "old scholars" in our family than ever before. There are some changes in our corps of teachers. Miss Bowen remains at home on account of the recent death of her mother, and Miss Hodgdon has engaged to become the presiding genius of a certain Vermont parsonage. Miss Holmes and Miss Bardwell are temporarily absent, on account of sickness at home. Miss Green is also to be away for the year. We have a new teacher of French and German, Mademoiselle Dietz having gone to visit her native country, this summer. The new teacher, Miss Vitzthum, is of German origin, and is an intimate friend of Mlle. Dietz. We like her much, and she seems really happy with us. Miss Warner and Miss Sweetser, of the class Of '74, as well as Miss Mack of the last class, are here ; and Miss Sweetser teaches the Greek classes in the absence of Miss Bradford. The latter hopes to return next term, as well as Miss Prentiss, who has been away more than a year.
One day not long after term opened, we received a beautiful portrait of Mrs. Samuel Williston, of Easthampton, whose late husband was formerly one of our trustees. She bad it painted on purpose for the seminary, and we have hung it over the mantelpiece in one of the double parlors, to match the portrait of Mr. Williston, which you remember adorns the other. It is an admirable picture, and would attract the attention even of strangers. Mrs. Williston has within a few months made a donation of a thousand dollars for the new building.
About the same time, Mr. Chandler, the artist who in his youth painted Miss Lyon's portrait, presented for our art-gallery portraits of Franklin, Washington, and Webster. The first two are careful copies of authentic likenesses, and the third is an original painting. It has been pronounced an excellent likeness by Mr. Webster's family; and Mr. Chandler has sold some thirty copies of it. it was not painted from life, but from a daguerreotype, aided by the artist's personal recollections of the great statesman. Mr. Chandler is a native of South Hadley, and manifests a good deal of interest in the seminary.
Our beautiful new boats were set afloat a few days ago, on the pond at the foot of the grounds. Some of you already know that they were procured by the generosity of three of our good friends, Mr. Williston, Mr. Sawyer, and Mr. Dickinson. The last named gentleman was from Amherst, and is now a lawyer in Boston. The three boats bear the names respectively of "Bessie Williston," " Mary Sawyer," and " Florence Dickinson," the little daughters of the donors. Having been made expressly for use here, they are light and easy to row. You
can hardly imagine how much our girls enjoy them. Each boat carries four oars; and as a large number of the young ladies are accustomed to rowing, it is seldom that. they are not all bespoken a day in advance, for every recreation hour.
Oct. 7. Yesterday, the sixth meeting of the Connecticut Valley Botanical Society took place here. You will recollect that we have had the honor of entertaining this highly agreeable body once before, a year ago last June ; and we were glad to have them come again. As the society is full of vigor and life, it has naturally attracted to itself sundry new members in the interval ; and on this occasion we entertained thirty or forty guests, many of whom came from a distance. Among these were the distinguished Professor Grey of Harvard, the author of our text-book in botany, and of other botanical works ; Professor Blanpied of Dartmouth ; President Clark of the Agricultural College at Amherst; and various other gentlemen and ladies from New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as many from Massachusetts. Our friends arrived in the forenoon, and held their first session before dinner. They met in the library, which had been prettily adorned with bright autumn leaves, ferns, and bouquets of the lovely fringed gentian. At the afternoon session, as many of us as could find room were allowed to listen to the discussions, which were no less entertaining than instruc. tive. We have fully made up our minds that botanists are peculiarly delightful people. We leave it for you to reflect upon the philosophy of the matter, and content ourselves with having discovered the fact. The society is to meet at Hanover, N. H., early in June next; and will have sessions on two successive days.
Thursday, Oct. 28. Since our last date, we have enjoyed a delightful visit from our friends Professor and Mrs. Lawrence of Marblehead. Professor Lawrence had some time ago promised to give us a course of lectures on the Philosophy of History, and this was the special occasion of his coming now. They arrived on the 13th inst., and were with us ten days, seeming to enjoy their stay as much as we did. It was their first visit since the death of their daughter Meta, who was once a pupil here; and it naturally awakened many tender associations. In his lectures, Prof. Lawrence took a broad survey of the field of history, always from the Christian and Scriptural standpoint, of course ; and always with the purpose to instruct. Many of the young ladies, as well as the teachers, constantly took notes.
You remember, perhaps, that our trustees have lately adopted the custom of holding a regular meeting in the fall, in addition to that at our Anniversary. We enjoy this extremely, the circumstances being so much more favorable for visiting with them than can ever be the case at the summer meeting. They were with us yesterday, and several spent the night. Deacon Porter and Mrs. Porter came on Tuesday, and had time to look over the various improvements during the afternoon, in which they were greatly interested. On Wednesday forenoon, Professors Tyler, Hitchcock, and Seelye, with Mrs. Tyler and Mrs. Hitchcock, arrived from Amherst; Mr. and Mrs. Williston and Mr. Sawyer also arrived before dinner; and Dr. Clark and Mr. Kingman came a little later, as well as
Col. Rice. Our pastor, Dr. Herrick, who was chosen a trustee at Anniversary, met with the others for the first time in that capacity. Governor Claflin is abroad at present, and Mr. Durant too busy to come, while Mr. Bridgman had the misfortune to be compelled to serve as a juryman that day. Rev. Mr. Green, of Lowell, sent in his resignation. Business occupied the afternoon of course ; but in the evening the teachers and the senior class assembled in the parlors and enjoyed a social visit with our guests. The Amherst friends and Mr. Sawyer were obliged to return home in the course of the evening, but the others remained until this morning.
Saturday, Nov. 6. Last Sabbath, Rev. W. I,. Gage of Hartford, Ct., preached here, having exchanged with Dr. Herrick. In the evening, he gave us a familiar talk about Palestine, the topics taken up having been suggested by written questions from members of the school. Mr. Gage has lately traveled in the Holy Land, and had devoted a vast deal of study to the subject before going, so that the lecture was extremely interesting. The village people were present, by special invitation.
On Thursday last, we had the pleasure of a visit from Rev. Allen Hazen, who conducted the evening meeting, and also addressed the school next morning at devotions. He was on his way to New York, to be present at the embarkation for India of his daughter Fanny, who graduated here last year. She is now the wife of Rev. Mr. Gates, and they are going to the mission where she was born, as well as the Ballantines, and others whom we know. We have a large representation from this Seminary among the missionary ladies in Bombay and its vicinity : the three sisters of the Ballantine family, Abbie (Burgess) Hume, Alice (Parsons) Ballantine, Martha Anderson, and now Fanny (Hazen) Gates.
With Mr. and Mrs. Gates, four others sail to-day, who are going as teachers to Cape (colony: Miss Carrie Ingraham, of North Adams, who lately graduated here; Miss Emma Landfear, of New Haven, Ct., who has been in school for two years past, but has not finished the course ; Miss Nellie Smith, of Sunderland, who graduated here two years ago ; and her sister Anna. The latter has never been one of our pupils, but has taught among the freedmen, and feels a deep interest in the work. Miss Ingraham is to be Miss Gilson's assistant at Stellenbosch, Miss Landfear will help Miss Ferguson at Wellington, and the Misses Smith will conduct another new school at Worcester, a town some thirty miles west of Wellington. Already we count quite a Holyoke family at the Cape, and "wonder whereunto this shall grow." A letter has just arrived, asking Miss Ward to select and send two more teachers for another school there, as well as a music teacher for Miss Gilson's ; and actually enclosing the passage-money for the three.
Saturday, Nov. 13. Examinations occupied us yesterday and this forenoon, as busily and as pleasantly as usual. Each half-day's exercises were diversified with a little music ; and today we bad half a dozen compositions, which were written and read by juniors, for a novelty. The new series of studies begins on Monday, so that we have a week and a half to devote to them before the close of the term.
Tuesday, Dec. 7 - Vacation has come and gone, with the usual experiences for our young travelers and ourselves : the delightful bustle of getting ready to go home, the circumstances adverse or comical on the way to the station, the rapid journey, the joyous welcome, the Thanksgiving feast, the pleasant holidays flying all too quickly, and the return. And now we are settled down to our books for the winter, with our family a little increased by the return of twelve or fifteen old scholars who were absent last term, and two new ones who were to have come at the beginning of the year, but were in some way detained. Our new music teacher, Miss Steele, has also arrived. She was not able to be here last term, on account of her health, but is better now. We congratulate ourselves upon having her to instruct our choirs, as she has enjoyed extraordinary advantages in her musical studies, both in this country and in Europe. Prof. Thompson, of Worcester, is now here, giving a course of lectures in chemistry, which will occupy a fortnight ; although he feels obliged frequently to give two lectures a day, as he cannot well be away from his own institution in term time.
Friday, Dec. 25. Last evening we had one of the pleasant little entertainments which we often enjoy together on Christmas eve. A little planning at our teachers' meeting, just before dinner, and the ready aid of many dextrous hands after lessons were over, sufficed for our preparations; and the extemporaneousness of the affair made it the more enjoyable. We gathered in the hall at an early hour, with a very few guests, including our pastor's family and Mr. Lawrence's. There was a good deal of talking, music, a few charades, and an amusing scene in which one of our seniors instructed a class in elocution. While we were occupied with the refreshments, a number of " sentiments " were read, some of which found marked favor. Among them were the following:
"OUR HONORED FRIEND AND TRUSTEE, DEACON PORTER:
To warn, to comfort, to command.'"
For every why, he had a wherefore.'"
As the question whether or not they would be classed as "Senior Middlers" had been agitating many minds, just then, "To be or not to be - that is the question," was considered good for the anxious candidates.
The new inhabitant of the aquarium," - a catfish, indescribably ugly, was introduced with the sentiment, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." But as the interest of these little sayings depends much upon trifling circumstances 'not easily communicated by the pen, we will not repeat any more of them. At the close of the evening, Dr. Herrick conducted family worship, and we bade each other good-night. Today has been a holiday, bringing the girls scores of presents from home, and not a few from each other. We had a later breakfast than on study days, and a Christmas dinner of roast turkey. This afternoon, from three to four, all the teachers received calls, in their private parlors, from the young ladies. This made a busy and pleasant hour for us, although such an amount of handshaking really led us to think with heart-felt commiseration of what the President of the United States, and other dignitaries, must suffer on similar occasions. This evening, we return to our studies as usual.
Tuesday, Jan. 4, 1876. Accept our New Year's greetings, dear friends, although they may be long on the way. We had our usual Saturday exercises on New Year's day; but they were more or less enlivened and cheered by various tokens of remembrance. Among other things, there came a profusion of hothouse flowers, a present to Miss Shattuck and Miss Edwards frotri a florist in Springfield, who is a member of the Connecticut Valley Botanical Association. Imagine the delight with which on this winter day, we handled and arranged the most exquisite camellias, roses, violets, callas, heliotropes, and I know not what besides of beautiful and fragrant blossoms, all mingled with lovely ferns and graceful smilax! They were carried to table that night, they adorned the hall when it was arranged for church next day ; it seemed as if their fragrance was everywhere. We almost always have some flowers of our own to place on the desk Sabbath mornings; but these, added to what we had besides, made us almost believe that it was summer.
It was communion Sabbath, so that we had two public services, and they were the more interesting as introducing the week of prayer. In the evening, we had our monthly concert. it was conducted by Miss Prentiss, who took up the various enterprises in behalf of Romanist countries.
Monday was the annual day of prayer for the conversion of the world, which has been so sacredly observed here from the earliest years of the school. It seemed to us a pleasant and encouraging day. We had the usual services, both social and public. Rev. Mr. Knight of South Hadley Falls was with us by invitation, in the afternoon ; and preached an admirable discourse from 2 Kings, 12:2, showing, from the life of Jehoash, the evil of founding one's religious character upon nothing more enduring than the influence of one's Christian friends and instructors. The young ladies listened with great attention, and we felt that such counsel was timely.
Monday, Feb. 28. Dear friends, do not think yourselves forgotten, as the weeks slip by and you do not hear from the old home. A busy winter it has been, though you will hardly know it from our hasty and intermittent record. Several circumstances have concurred to crowd these months with cares that do not belong to every year; with some, indeed, that come only once in a century. Then the various matters to be arranged respecting our new building, and the new church -the latter now happily finished and dedicated, -have taken up not a little time and thought. We are in the midst of reviews ; and our girls can count the days before they are to go home on the fingers of one hand, if they like, as no doubt they secretly do! So we will just dispatch what we have written, and beg you to hope for a more satisfactory letter next time.
We must not fail to tell you, however, that we have had more blessings than cares, during all these busy weeks. While there has not been what we could call a marked and general religious interest in our family, there have been about thirty hopeful conversions since the opening of the school year. We have been greatly favored also in the matter of health, as well as in the kindnesses received from so many friends.
We print this journal-letter as an experiment, hoping you will thus receive it more promptly, and read it with less fatigue. If you like it, please help us to preserve its private and domestic character, by not allowing it to be circulated in any public way, or indeed to go much beyond the limits of the Holyoke family. More than all, write to us in return.
With love from us all to you all,
MARY 0. NUTTING.
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