Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
Mount Holyoke Collections Online
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Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., FEB. 12, 1878.DEAR HOLYOKE SISTERS:-
You will soon be looking for the "letter from home," which should tell you what has happened under this dear old roof since last summer. Let us then begin with the long vacation, this year one week longer than heretofore, as our Anniversary now occurs the third week in June, and it seems not best to open in August.
As usual, sundry repairs and improvements were going on; and the various workmen and workwomen busied here and there, were sufficiently numerous and active to prevent the establishment from seeming like "some banquet hall deserted." Miss Ward remained for two or three weeks after term closed, and Miss Edwards still longer, as there were many things to be arranged in Williston Hall, which could be done more conveniently in vacation. After a month or so, the Seminary household was reduced to three : Mrs. Foster, the teacher in charge of correspondence, and one young lady. Do not, however, imagine them passing the summer in profound and delightful seclusion, such as may in former years have been the happy lot of tired teachers who spent long vacations here. On the contrary, there were perpetual invasions of summer tourists, desiring to be shown about the buildings, and especially to see Williston Hall. There were generally not less than forty or fifty people here every week, and sometimes many more; so that several hundred persons must have visited the seminary during the summer. Of course, this made no small demand upon the time and strength of those who did the honors of the establishment; for Williston Hall alone occupies a good hour, if one allows only three minutes to each room containing objects of interest. But the surprise and pleasure expressed at finding so much worth seeing went far toward compensating for the trouble. A gentleman who has long been at the head of a large institution remarked the other day, that among educational buildings of the kind, he bad seen nothing equal to Williston Hall, either in this country or abroad.
During the closing days of August, our scattered forces began to muster, and Saturday, September 1st, found fifteen teachers here, besides Mrs. Foster, and eight pupils. Monday morning brought most of the other teachers. Miss Sessions and Miss Hazen, who were away all last year, had resumed their places; but Miss Blanchard was still abroad, and Miss Holmes was not to be here for a few weeks. Of course we missed Miss Clary, who sailed August 11th, with the large company of teachers going to Cape Colony, whose departure many newspapers mentioned at the time. Her destination, however, is much more remote than theirs, as she is to commence a school in Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal. Her associate is Miss Ruggles, a pupil here a few years ago. We will tell you what we have since heard from them, by-and-by. Meanwhile we have in the Seminary hall a fresh reminder of Miss Clary,
in the beautiful new desk and tables on the platform, the money for which she obtained from former pupils and other friends.
We had the brightest and sunniest of weather for the assembling of the school and, indeed, the whole autumn was wonderfully summer-like in the serene beauty of its days. Among other pleasures, it brought us not a few delightful guests. Early in the term there came a young Waidensian minister, Rev. Giovanni Cereghini, who was soliciting from Christians in this country aid for his people in building a church. In his address here, he gave a brief outline of the history of the Waldenses, tracing their origin as a church back to apostolic times, with much apparent probability. He spoke of the thirty-three persecutions which they have endured; of their missionary labors, past and present; and of the freedom with which they now preach throughout Italy. Though Mr. Cereghini was a little less at ease in the English language than he would have been in Italian, he was really eloquent, and even vehement, in the intense earnestness of his appeals. We had a brief call, a few days later, from Miss Porter, for nine years past a teacher in North China; and Rev. Mr. Scott, of the Presbyterian Mission in Northern India, was here about the same time. His wife is a graduate of i852 (Eliza Jane Foster), and their daughter is now a pupil here. Mrs. Stow of Hubbardston, whom so many of you remember as Miss Locke, came to help us for ten days or a fortnight, early in the term. Doubtless most of you know how deeply she has been bereaved, in the sudden death of her husband last spring, from an accident. We had short visits also from two others who taught here several years ago; Mrs. Ball - formerly Helen Savage - and Mary Burgess. Miss Burgess has in a measure recovered from her long illness some years since; but is still an invalids Later in the fall, our former pastor, Rev. Mr. Bliss, now settled in Clinton, Conn., paid us a visit,; and in November we had the special pleasure of welcoming our old friend, Mrs. Carroll, for the first time since she left in 1873- She looks scarcely older than when she presided so efficiently in the domestic hall, says she is perfectly well, and keeps house, with great satisfaction, in a snug home of her own in Mattapoisett.
We had an interesting lecture October 30th, from Mr. Champney, the artist. The subject was "The Passion-Play of Oberammergau," which he had himself witnessed the last time it was performed. He illustrated his descriptions of the various sorts of people whom he met, with rapid and spirited chalk sketches on a blackboard. The principal personages of the play, photographed in their various costumes, were also shown us during the lecture.
The regular meeting of the trustees took place on Wednesday, November 7th and was attended by all except Mr. Durant and Governor Claflin. Several of the ladies came with their husbands, and their presence added greatly to the pleasure of the occasion. It was lovely weather; and when the gentlemen had dispatched their business matters, we had time for a good visit. In the evening the young ladies were invited to meet our friends in the Seminary Hall. We need not tell you how often we thought of our dear Deacon Porter, who was here for the last time at the trustee meeting one year ago.
Two days afterward, Prof. Tyler brought over from Amherst, Rev. George Müller of Bristol, England, with Mrs. Müller. It was just before dinner that they arrived, and though they were obliged to return before night, we succeeded in arranging for Mr. Müller to address the school in the meantime. He spoke in a very simple, earnest and striking manner on the text, "Ask and ye shall receive" He called
attention to three conditions of acceptable prayer - that it should be prompted by a predominant desire for God's glory, should be offered in the name of Christ, and with faith. Before closing, he alluded to his own experience in prayer; and remarked that we are not told how soon our prayers will be answered. He often had immediate, or very speedy answers, but sometimes had to pray for many years. Both Mr. and Mrs. Müller expressed a strong interest in this school, of which they had long ago read in the memoir of Miss Lyon.
During that same week, we had a little visit from our good friend, Rev. Dr. Chickering, who spoke to the school in regard to temperance, and the proper care of the body as a Christian duty. And on Saturday evening, Nov.10, we welcomed Miss Smiley, from whom we had hoped to have a visit last June, which was in some way prevented. This time she spent a fortnight with us, generally addressing the school every day, either at morning devotions or at an evening meeting. As when she was here before, we listened with great interest and pleasure to her Bible readings. On two Sabbath evenings, she addressed large congregations in the church; and our friends from town often came to attend her meetings here. Her manner in public, as elsewhere, is extremely quiet and lady-like; her voice soft, but clear and easy to be heard. Her teachings tend to awaken special interest in studying the Bible. She has since gone to England, where she is to labor for a time.
One evening in November, President Clark of Amherst, gave in the church, an exceedingly interesting lecture on Japan; where, as you know, he has lately spent a year, at the request of the Japanese government. He told us how he managed to secure a certain tacit toleration in teaching his pupils the religion of the Bible; and that before he left them they all professed their faith in Christianity.
Prof. Thompson commenced the lectures in chemistry November 23d, and closed December 11th. Several young ladies took laboratory practice under the professor's supervision, as for some years past; and a small class are still pursuing the study under Miss Shattuck's care.
Our Thanksgiving day, being in term time, was spent here by most of the family. We had merely a recess of two days, beginning Wednesday noon; recitations occupying Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon. The weather on Wednesday was almost as mild and sunny as a September day; and while many willing hands arranged the hall as a drawing-room, others devoted themselves to culinary preparations. The next day was rather cloudy and wet, but not cold. We had our Thanksgiving dinner, in orthodox style, about an hour after returning from church, the brothers of a few of the young ladies, with one or two other visitors, being our only guests. The evening was pleasantly spent in the hall, with music, social chat, and an early collation. Rev. Mr. Ford, whose sister is in school, conducted devotions at the close of the evening.
We must tell you of our new treasures in Williston Hall. One, received just before Anniversary, is an admirable painting bequeathed to the Seminary by the late eminent artist, Edwin White. It represents the great master, Leonardo da Vinci, surrounded by his pupils, who are sketching under his direction and from his drawings, the outlines of the celebrated "Last Supper." During vacation, there arrived from Spain a fine copy of one of Murillo's paintings of " the Immaculate Conception." It was done by Senor lzquierdo of Madrid, and good judges who have seen the original, consider it an admirable copy, though it is only half-length. The uplifted face of Mary, almost child-like in its perfect purity and unconscious grace, is
marvelous for its expression of wondering, adoring love. It comes to us as a gift from Mrs. Lawrence, together with a collection of photographs from famous paintings in the galleries of Madrid and Seville. The class of i866 have lately given us casts of three celebrated statues: the Venus of Milo, Diana and the Stag, and the Minerva of the Vatican. To these the class of 1874 have added casts of Flaxman's Shield of Achilles, the bust of Jupiter, and the mask of Juno. Rev. Mr. Scott, whom we have already mentioned, sent us two ancient volumes once belonging to the royal library of Delhi; one of them - a Persian poem, we understand, - is about three hundred years old. Our natural history collections have received important additions, presented by the widow of Dr. Barrett, formerly a professor in Ripon College, Wisconsin; as well as several dainty little cases of minerals, seeds, and woods from Japan, the gift of Mr. Okabe, a Japanese student in Springfield.
We meant to tell you how our Christmas week was made memorable by weather so spring-like that in more than one town in Hampshire County enterprising people actually held picnics in the open air; how our great family dispersed and reassembled without seeing ice or snow; how that same auspicious week brought back Miss Blanchard, safe and well, from her foreign tour; and how the Seminary was visited by no less a personage than the Vice President of the United States, then the guest of Dr. Herrick, his former pastor. We had also much to tell you of Prof. Young's lectures in Physics, during the first three weeks of this term; of recent large additions to our apparatus, whose purchase he has kindly superintended; and of our pleasure in lectures which are not only brilliant and profound, but Christian as well. But we must pass over these things, to speak of the religious state of the school, of which you have doubtless been thinking.
From time to time during the fall term, there were instances of hopeful conversion, but not what could be termed a revival. The first Monday of January was observed in our usual manner; the various prayer meetings were well attended, and we had an impressive discourse from Rev. Mr. Knight. Soon after the week of prayer, the young ladies began to hold many little meetings by themselves; then they asked that a general meeting might be appointed, fifteen minutes before supper on Wednesday, and again on the Sabbath. These hopeful tokens still continue, and the meetings are full and interesting. We rejoiced to have Prof. Tyler with us, on the day of prayer for colleges; his tender, earnest, helpful words at morning devotions, and at a special meeting of the senior class, as well as at the afternoon service, when he preached on the joy in heaven over repenting sinners, forcibly reminded us of our dear Dr. Kirk on similar occasions.
We want your prayers for the few still out of Christ; and Miss Ward asks you to pray especially for the seniors, that they may be a peculiarly consecrated class.
With many thanks to all who have written us this year, and a hope to hear soon from others, we must close. As we cannot generally send more than one copy of the journal to the same vicinity, may we ask that the one who receives it will always be responsible for the prompt transmission of it to all the others for whom it is designed.
In behalf of the Seminary,
MARY O. NUTTING.
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