Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
Mount Holyoke Collections Online
|4 printed pages.
The top of each new page is indicated within the body of the text below by a page number in parentheses.
Note: The text below was created from the scanned original by optical character recognition (OCR). Inaccuracies in OCR transcription are common, and it is possible that not all errors have been corrected. When in doubt, refer to the original page images.
Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., JUNE 5, 1876.DEAR FRIENDS:
Yesterday morning, our girls began to make allusions, in their chatting together, to "week after next." Can you guess what that means? Can you believe that we are so nearly through with our work for this school year, and that week after next is to witness its close? Well, we must try to convince ourselves that such is the truth, however impossible it seems, and however much we may wish it were not so. Anniversary is close upon us; and first, among many things yet to be done, is the writing of our journal letter to the sisters who will be looking for tidings from their Holyoke home.
We shortened our spring vacation one week in order to avoid the interference of the Amherst Commencement with our own ; for you know several of the Professors are on our 13oard of Trustees. So we reassembled for our spring term March i6tb. Miss Holmes had decided to remain at home during the first " series," having need of rest ; and the ill-health of her mother detained her a little longer than she was intending to stay. Miss Clary has long been planning to celebrate this centennial year by a visit to California ; and she commenced her journey very early in March, spending time by the way in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, and various other places. We frequently hear from her, and very often she sends donations which she has obtained for Miss Edwards' casts, or for some other object connected with the Seminary. She says she is sure that when her journey is over, the country will be somewhat better informed than before, in respect to this institution!
The first great event recorded in our note-book this term was the fire, April ad. It occurred on Sabbath evening, the alarm being given at 8 o'clock. The first building destroyed was an old barn or stable, behind the hotel barns, I think. The flames spread with great rapidity on both sides to the neighboring buildings, which were likewise old, and burned like tinder. No sooner had we heard the alarm than we found everything at that end of the street lighted up with the lurid glare. Fortunately, the evening was mild and still, so that the exposure for those who were out so many hours was much less than it would otherwise have been. It was but a little while before there came word that there was need of our help. Our young ladies were prompt to respond ; and though we were anxious for their health, we could not refuse the request, coming as it did from our judicious friend and pastor, Dr. Herrick. Indeed, we all went, except a very few who were needed to take care within doors. The hotel was burning, and it was likely to be a long time before the engine from Holyoke could be obtained. Most of us formed in line, with our pails, to carry water from the Seminary; a few were pumping and carrying from Mr. Lyman's, and others from Mr. Miller's. You know South Hadley has no reservoir, and our tanks could
furnish water more rapidly than it could be had otherwise. Our steam-pump was set in motion, meanwhile, to keep the cisterns supplied. The principal bucket line " extended from our first-story bath-room through the front door, and along the street nearly to the burning buildings, a distance of some thirty rods. The fire was coming nearer all the while ; people across the street were already bringing valuables to the Seminary for safe keeping, while numbers were beginning to arrive from South Hadley Falls and Holyoke. Many of the newcomers were of the sort of people whose presence makes property only the more insecure ; a policeman from Holyoke took pains to warn the citizens that something like fifty of their " roughs " were on the way. We heard of some pilfering during the evening, but as our doors were all fastened except the front one, we lost nothing. One half-hour after another passed, while we still worked on. The store and post-office were gone, and the postmaster's house, a large old-fashioned dwelling standing some distance back from the street, was in great danger. The lady of the house, who had been dangerously ill for some time previous, had already been removed to a place of safety. If that house should go, it seemed likely that the parsonage would follow, and the remaining buildings on that side of the street, so that the fire would then be nearly opposite the Seminary. just as there began to be tokens that it was checked, the Holyoke engine at last arrived. The firemen succeeded in obtaining a supply of water from a little pond, and began to work. It was now ten o'clock. We had for some time been sending out hot coffee and chocolate to our girls, and to others who were carrying water ; and now we began to prepare refreshments for the firemen. After the flames were so far extinguished that a part of the company could be spared for a little time, they came over, and we took pleasure in serving them with all the hot drink and food they wanted. Some time afterwards, the rest came, and were supplied. Meanwhile the Holyoke rabble followed to our basement door, and had the audacity to clamor for admittance ; but the appearance of an officer, as well as some intimations from our engineer, who is a personage of formidable presence, quickly dispersed them. Mr. Lawrence had a sprained ankle at the time, so that he was hardly able to get about without much pain; but he secured two men to watch our premises till morning, and a few of the teachers also mounted guard. It was pretty certain that this was an incendiary fire, but the perpetrator of the deed is still unknown.
Next morning, as you may imagine, we were not in our best condition for study, although nobody was ill. As it was not till near midnight that we had been able to retire, we had decided to have a very late breakfast, and no lessons during the forenoon. The house was in comical disorder here and there, the front ball being decorated with a motley array of battered tin pails, which had returned from the fire much in the shape of a cocked hat. The reception room was strewn with huge bundles tied up in bedquilts, which had been brought in by our neighbors the night before ; and the long table in the library displayed sundry specimens of delicate china. When we assembled at breakfast, we thankfully joined in singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," as we reflected how easily that incendiary torch might have set fire to our home, and we might have been scattered, never again to gather here. Everybody had so much to say that we were all talking at once. As usual, a great number of funny incidents had occurred, and we were in a mood to enjoy them; but we will not take
time to repeat them to you. The morning was a little rainy, but almost every one went out to gaze on the smoking ruins. From the little harness shop just below the corner as one comes from the Ferry, to the house of Mr. Morgan Smith, our postmaster, nothing remained standing save the huge old chimney of the hotel, and some half-burned fence-posts. You will be glad to know, however, that the post-office has already been rebuilt ; and two good brick blocks are making rapid progress. Nothing has yet been done towards a new hotel.
About a week after the fire, we had an exciting event of another sort. One of our family, a young lady from Brooklyn, was found to have the varioloid, having doubtless taken the disease at the time she returned to school. It seemed necessary to remove her to another dwelling, and, as we could not for a moment think of letting her be taken to the pest-house, some miles distant on "the plains," some other place must be provided. Dr. Lester, the village physician, whose opinion of the case had been sought, and who subsequently took charge of it, suggested an old house near by, belonging to the Higgins family, who now live in a new one on the same premises. Permission having been obtained from the selectmen of the town, as well as from the family, we set about making it habitable for our sick one. Two front rooms were quickly cleaned, furnished, and even decorated, the young ladies bringing many pressed ferns and other things for that purpose. Within three or four hours all was ready; and when that evening the patient was introduced to her retreat, she declared it seemed quite " like a bower," and was even pleasanter than the room she had left. One of the young ladies, who had formerly had varioloid, spent the first week there, by way of cheering her solitude ; and a highly entertaining correspondence was kept up between the Seminary and the quarantine, letters from the latter place, however, being carefully disinfected before delivery. After the first week, as the nurse could not perform the part of secretary, the letter-writing was wholly on our part, The patient was not very ill ; and felt as well as ever, long before it was thought best that she should return. I suppose we were far more careful to avoid risk of spreading the disease than people generally are, and perhaps superfluously so. At least, we succeeded completely, and feel that we have much reason for gratitude.
We have had courses of lectures from several professors, this term, so that our time and thoughts have been fuller than usual. During the latter part of April, we enjoyed a rare treat, in the lectures of Rev. Joseph Cook on " Science and Religion." Those of you who read the Congregationalist will not need to be told that he has attracted great attention as a lecturer in Boston lately, as well as at Amherst, Worcester, and elsewhere. At Amherst especially, the impression made upon the young men was so profound and so general that we felt the more desirous to have him speak here. And we were not disappointed in him. If you knew what had been told us beforehand, you would think this was saying enough. He gave us five lectures from April 18th to April 22d ; and after fulfilling engagements in Worcester and Boston, returned April 26th, and delivered three lectures more. Among the subjects taken up were, "Proofs from Science of the Divine Omnipresence," "The Certainties of Religious Truth," "Causes of Skepticism in New England," "Decline of Rationalism in Germany," "Evolution," and 11 Materialism." The young ladies were greatly interested in the themes so ably presented, and when they were invited to bring written questions respecting
them, responded in large numbers. These questions, after having been somewhat classified, were answered in evening gatherings in the hall, additional to the lectures. We had three of these informal talks, each occupying considerably more than an hour, and they were attended with great and general interest, to the last. If we had time, we should like to tell you much more of them ; but we should have to leave the best untold after all. As others before us have said, this lecturer is often "unreportable." The hearer receives vastly more than it is possible to convey.
Prof. Young was here for a week early in May, to finish a course of lectures in Physics which he commenced near the close of last term. Since he gave his last previous course here, he has spent many months at the antipodes, watching for the transit of Venus. We congratulate ourselves on enjoying the instructions of a scientist so eminent abroad as well as at home. He has promised a course in Astronomy next fall.
Somehow, we have not been favored with visits from missionary friends this year, until lately. Miss Williams of Marash was here over night, early in May, and addressed the school at devotions next morning. We wished we could have bad her here much longer. A few days afterwards, Mr. and Mrs. Tracy of Marsovan came to spend the Sabbath. They both addressed us, at different times ; and the young ladies were much interested in the Armenian woman who accompanied them, and who said some things to the school, Mrs. Tracy being her interpreter. It was a great pleasure to meet those who had been with our dear Miss Washburn not very long ago.
And now we must pass over many things very briefly, or omit them altogether; for time presses. We should like to tell you of the visit of Deacon and Mrs. Porter, last month ; of Professor Churchill's lessons in Elocution, and the fine reading which he gave us one evening at the close of his course ; of the grading and laying out of the grounds around the new building, now nearly finished ; of Miss Edwards' long desired geological "casts," and especially that of the megatherium, which she pronounces the comeliest of all the six megatheriums which she has seen; also of the money yet needed, which is about $io,ooo, for the building, and some $6oo for the casts. But some of these things you will learn in other ways. We are glad to say that all of our Senior Class this year go forth with a Christian hope, and that only some ten or twelve of all now in school do not profess to love Christ.
It is now June 13th. Miss Ward has been absent for ten days past, soliciting funds in the region of Boston, but we expect her soon. We have to thank several of you, dear friends, for the letters received within the last few months. We recall those of Miss Fritcher and Miss Washburn of Marsovan; Mrs. Bruce and Mrs. Harding of the Bombay mission; Mrs. Gulick of Spain; Mrs. Pixley of the Zulu mission, Mrs. Whitney of the Micronesian mission, and numerous letters from our Holyoke colony at the Cape of Good Hope. You do not know how much year letters help us ; let us hear from you all.
In behalf of our Alma Mater,
MARY O. NUTTING.
[end of text]