Printed Journal Letter 7: January 1879 


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[For private Circulation only.]
Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., Jan., 1879.
DEAR FRIENDS: - 

Our school year opened September 5th, but, as usual, our forces had been gathering during the preceding week. The house was soon well filled, and of the large junior class many exhibited more than ordinary mental activity in their examinations, and less tendency to homesickness than usual. We missed some old faces from our ranks of teachers, and welcomed new ones to their places. 

To Miss Shattuck the trustees had voted a year of rest. Miss Steele, our music teacher for the past two years, is not with us now, her place being at present filled by Miss Ada Mac Vicar of Potsdam, N. Y., while Dr. Adelaide A. Richardson, from Boston, is our new physician. As Miss Spooner and Miss Cutler are away at present, Mrs. Stowe and Miss Blodgett Came to Our assistance for a few weeks. Miss Persis Hewitt, of the class of 1876, is also here for the year. You will be interested to know that, during the summer vacation, Miss Clapp enjoyed a delightful trip as one of a party of scientists under the escort of Prof. Jordan, author of the Manual of Vertebrates recently published. The party proceeded from Knoxville, Tenn.; spent three weeks in a ramble over the mountains of North Carolina; made excursions into Georgia and along the Atlantic coast; and, returning, gave two weeks to the study of cabinets in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington. 

Our grounds, on which unusual care bad been expended, and to which the abundant August rains had imparted the freshness of June, never looked more beautiful than now. The lovely English ivies which were planted with some misgivings two or three years since, over Miss Lyon's grave, have borne our winters well, and now delighted our eyes with their thrifty, abundant greenness. Many of these ivies were sent by former pupils; and if, as we hope, numbers of our friends remember us in the same way in the spring, the entire spot will soon be covered.  

On the 7th of September, three ladies, Misses Ferris, Watt and Palmer, sailed from New York for South Africa, to identify themselves with work in the Holyoke schools there, their places to be assigned after their arrival. Although neither of these has been a pupil here, two of them are by no means strangers to us. We have pleasant recollections of Miss Ferris' visit last summer, and Miss Palmer seems almost like one of us, as she has taught for two years past in the public schools in South Hadley. We look upon them all as in some sense honorary members of the Holyoke band. 

You have before learned of Dr. Herrick's dismissal in May. His residence at present is at West Hartford, Conn. The people of South Hadley, not feeling ready to settle a pastor, have invited Rev. Wm. De Loss Love, D. D., to remain with them until next April. 

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Early in the term, a new treasure arrived, a copy of Raphael's celebrated painting of the Transfiguration. This copy, made in 1846 for a noble family in Rome by Guiseppe Mazzolini, is considered excellent, and gains rather than loses ill value by time. It is largely the gift of Mr. Rodney Wallace of Fitchburg, though his generosity was supplemented by that of other friends. Soon after its arrival, Prof. Tyler repeated in the Seminary Hall a discourse previously delivered in Amherst, where the painting made a brief stay oil its way to us. We found the talk, as he characterized it, a most valuable commentary on both painting and passage. Dean Alford, as quoted by Prof. Tyler, has pronounced this masterpiece of the immortal Raphael the best commentary in existence upon the account of the Transfiguration. 

You cannot have forgotten Dea. Hastings, that gentle and true-hearted man whose face, even in old age, still retained its characteristic expression of childlike humility and simplicity. Constant in the house of God, constant also at his daily work, death met him in his accustomed place of labor. After a few days of intense suffering from an accident in connection with machinery of the sash factory, he was at rest. 

Last year's journal informed you of the very precarious state of Miss Clary's health. Before the long vacation was over we learned that she was rapidly failing, and were not unprepared for the tidings which the latter part of October brought that her work was ended. The day of her death was August 3d,-eight days before the anniversary of her departure from home, August 11th. Knowing her devotion to her work, perhaps we had hardly anticipated the cheerful peace and resignation with which she gave it up. Her letters home gave glimpses of the struggle this cost her. In the month of May, after speaking of a visit from her kind physician in which with much emotion on his part and perfect calmness on her own, the truth was told her, she added, "Oh, I have tried to untwine the tendrils of my heart from Prospect Seminary, and fix them on something better; but sometimes I fear they are as firmly planted there as ever. Yet I humbly trust that I can almost always say, 'Let Him do as seemeth Him good." On Monday, July 29th, she wrote with other farewell words," How much I want to talk about the past . . . but we would leave that and talk about the glorious future just before me. It is four months now since I have known what bodily rest was; will it not be delightful to enter into rest? Oh, but it is not bodily rest that I long for, it is rest from sin." She expressed the wish that life might end before the following Monday, when her devoted helper and friend, Miss Ruggles, was to return to school duties. Memorial services were conducted by her pastor, Rev. Arthur Shirley, in the church at Conway, the Sabbath following the news of her death. By a recent message from her friends we learn that she remembered her Alma Mater with the precious legacy of fifty dollars Miss Ruggles has joined the teachers of Midland Seminary at Graaf Reinct, but it is hoped that the work in Pretoria may be resumed at no distant day. 

One mild afternoon in October, 

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,"

a party of forty or more made a trip to Mt. Holyoke. They took a new route, via the Connecticut River, going by stage to Smith's Ferry, where they were met by the small steamer which runs regularly from Mt. Tom Station on the Connecticut River Road to the foot of Mt. Holyoke. The novelty of the excursion and the beauty of the day rendered the occasion memorable. 

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The adjourned meeting of the trustees was held October 23d. Contrary to precedent, the day was stormy, and only a quorum of the trustees were present, Col. Rice being absent for the first time in many years. The session was a short one, President Seelye remarking playfully at its close, that all was going on so well that little was left for them to do. 

About this time, Mrs. Porter, feeling her strength inadequate to the care of a home, decided to break up housekeeping and make her residence with a niece living in Oxford, Mass. On her leaving Monson, several articles of furniture were sent to the Seminary, as previously directed by Dea. Porter. You will like to know that the furniture of the guest-chamber in Monson has been transferred to No. 85, the room so associated in memory with our venerated friend, and which will hereafter be known as the Porter Room. 

At Thanksgiving we had, as last year, only a recess from Wednesday noon till Friday noon, giving the opportunity to those who lived near to spend the day with their friends. About sixty did so, still leaving a great familv to enjoy the day here. We kept it in true New England fashion, having all excellent sermon in the morning from Dr. Love, our dinner at two, and the usual evening entertainment in the Seminary Hall. 

Of good lectures we have had no lack. In October we had the pleasure of hearing from Prof. Lawrence of Marblehead, a part of his course on the Philosophy of Travel, previously delivered before the Lowell Institute. Our anticipations were more than realized. The lecturer carried us with him across the Atlantic, to Sicily, Pompeii and Rome; and, as he described the marvels of the Eternal city, and permitted us to explore with him the Vatican, St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel, it was not only the wonderful scenes he presented, but the delightful way ill which the story was told, the eloquent and discriminating remarks upon the philosophy of Italian art, that captivated his listeners here as in Boston. We had lectures ill chemistry in November, as last year. We still have the benefit of Prof. Thompson's services in this department. Now that we have such facilities for laboratory practice, it was deemed best to spend less of the time in experiments, and devote more to Organic Chemistry. We shared, near the close of the term, in a valuable and interesting lecture, delivered in church by Rev. Selah Merrill, D. D., on "Palestine in the Light of Modern Researches." 

Both Miss Edwards and Miss Sessions have been afflicted with lameness resulting from sprains, especially serious in Miss Edwards' case; but they now rejoice in being able to dispense with crutches. 

Our sense of the need of a supply of water not dependent upon varying streams and seasons, led to a project for boring an Artesian well. The depth already attained is nearly two hundred feet, but the wished-for spring is not yet reached. 

Our missionary interest has been stimulated by visits from Mrs. Wilder, formerly of Kolapore, India; and Miss Helen Carpenter, from the Sandwich Islands. We have also much enjoyed our letters from abroad, and would gratefully acknowledge those from Miss Fritcher, Mrs. Alice (Gordon) Gulick, and journals from South Africa. 

We were saddened in sympathy with Miss Parsons, one of our teachers, who was called home the last of November by the death of her mother, Mrs. Josiah Parsons of Northampton, and that interest was deepened from the fact that Mrs. Parsons was a pupil here for one term during the first year of the school. She was a 

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woman of uncommon strength of mind and symmetry of character, of whom Rev. Gordon Hall said at her funeral that she was one who would have gone to the stake for her principles; a type of character greatly needed in these degenerate days. 

The proportion of unconverted in our household this year was small, as it has been of late - not more than thirty-five. A few of these have given themselves to Christ, and individual Christians seem to be quickened, but we hope for a richer blessing. 

We ask a special interest in your prayers for our dear Senior class who, almost for the first time in our history, are all numbered among the followers of Christ. It is our hope that they will be a peculiarly consecrated class. 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, 

Yours in behalf of the Seminary, 

SARAH H. MELVIN.  


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