Printed Journal Letter 9: January 1880 


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[For Private Circulation only.)
Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., JANUARY, 1880.
DEAR FRIENDS: 

You are always ready to rejoice with us in the various improvements made here, and it will hardly be needful to ask your congratulations that we began this year with an ample supply of clear, pure water in all the stories of our building. You have previously heard something of our prospective Artesian well, but you did not know how patiently and anxiously we waited while the boring went on, month after month, with no signs of abundance of water; nor of the glad surprise with which we heard, on our return last September, that when a depth of four hundred and fifty feet was reached, water came at the rate of forty gallons per minute, and with sufficient force to raise it within sixty feet of the surface, a small engine being used to pump it the remaining distance. Were we not thankful? 

Nor was this all. Concrete walks to Williston Hall, and maple floors in the upper halls of the main building, had been laid; a steam-heated drying-room adjoined the wash-room, and in the latter were faucets for hot and cold water over each tub; while a ponderous washing-machine and mangle, attached to machinery and worked by steam, encouraged us to hope that the labors of the laundry department would be lightened. Although the boat-house was not completed till later in the season, it must not be forgotten. It is quite a pretty little structure, reminding one of a cottage by the sea. 

Misses Bowers and Holmes were not with us at the opening of school; and Miss Clapp also extended her vacation a few weeks, having sailed for Europe just before anniversary. Her trip included a pedestrian tour among the mountains of Switzerland, and short visits in England, France, Germany, and the north of Italy. Mrs. Stowe is with us this year. Miss Sessions was obliged to leave the Seminary in November, on account of her father's increasing illness. His disease, which was of the heart, terminated his life a few days since. Miss Edwards has also been bereaved of her father, who passed away on the first day of the new year. She did not receive the summons home till the last night of the term, and has now returned to her work here. 

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About the middle of September our curiosity was aroused by the arrival of a very old painting of the Nativity. We could guess neither the name of the donor nor of the artist, but afterwards learned that the picture was Miss Ellis's gift, and was without doubt an early copy of a painting by Maratti, an artist of the seventeenth century. 

Prof. Goodyear, of Cooper Institute, gave a course of lectures in October, upon the History of Art. His previous courses had included a history of Egyptian and Greek architecture and early Italian painting. The subjects of these lectures were Greek and Roman sculpture; mediaeval architecture; Dutch, German, and late Italian painting. The usual course of lectures in chemistry, by Prof. Thompson, followed reviews in November. 

We have enjoyed the anticipated visits from Miss Bliss, who told us much that we cannot learn from letters about our friends in South Africa and their work. Much of her time and strength has thus far been given to effort for obtaining teachers to labor in that peculiarly interesting and hopeful field. She has been so far successful that three ladies will probably sail in February. We also learn from her that two of the former pupils at Wellington are now on their way to Pretoria to continue the work begun there by Miss Clary and Miss Ruggles. 

Miss Scott, formerly a missionary under the Episcopal Board at Cape Palmas, Liberia, spent a week or two in our midst. She has plans for a girls' school there, which she hopes to open as soon as these plans are perfected and the needful funds secured. Her vivid pictures of her life in Africa, and suggestive remarks upon missionary work, gave an additional stimulus to the interest already awakened in behalf of the Dark Continent. 

At Thanksgiving there was a brief visit from Miss Smiley; and, later, Miss Clara Lawrence, a graduate of last year's class at Painesville, spent a Sabbath here on her way to Manisa. Nor must we forget the pleasant interview with Mr. and Mrs. Hinkle, of Cincinnati, warm friends of the Western Female Seminary, who spent a day and night under our roof. 

In October, two English ladies were our guests: Mrs. Meredith, and Hon. Ada Cavendish, niece of the Duke of Devonshire. Mrs. Meredith has for fifteen years been engaged in a mission work in London, for the children of criminals. Doubtless some of you have read accounts of the village homes provided for these. Miss Cavendish, for some time associated with her, is greatly interested in the subject of the more thorough education of girls in England. Their trip to this country was partly for the purpose of visiting our principal seminaries, and partly for needed rest. 

On the ioth of December, the meeting of the Hampshire branch of the Woman's Board was held in the Seminary hall. The day was not clear, but there was a good attendance. Letters were read from Mrs. Gulick of Santander, Miss Parsons of  

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Constantinople, Miss Stevens of Japan, Mrs. Capron of Madura, and others. There was also a paper prepared by one of the senior class; and Mrs. Love, our pastor's wife, gave some account of the work of the Woman's Board of the Interior. 

In November, we learned indirectly that Dr. Kelsey had been ill for many weeks in Chefoo. Our anxieties were, however, speedily relieved by letters from herself, in which she declared that she was rejoicing in renewed health and vigor, and was about to return to Tungchow, with fresh courage for study and work. 

The death of Mr. Sawyer, of Easthampton, our trustee, occurred Nov. 26th. Although his illness had been regarded as very serious, the tidings of his death came upon us as a shock for which we were hardly prepared. He had ever been warmly engaged in promoting our interests, and had personally superintended the improvements made here in the summer vacation. Doubtless you have also learned from the papers the death of Dr. Hall, of Northampton. We mourn his loss, not only because of our reverence for his noble Christian character, but because we shall miss a friend to whose strong, helpful words we have often listened while he conducted services here upon a day of prayer, or some similar occasion. 

Miss Lyon's birthplace has of late become the property of the Seminary. At least, an acre of land upon which her home formerly stood has been purchased, and although the house is no longer standing, the hill, stream, rocks, and trees upon which she used to look, still remain. 

We must not fail to mention the award of a silver medal to the Seminary at the Paris Exposition. No higher award was made to any educational institution in the country. Miss Kate Field, in a letter to the New York Tribune, speaking of the success of this department, says : "Perhaps no exhibit excited more attention than that of the higher education of woman, represented by Vassar, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, and the Georgia College at Rome." 

You will wish a word concerning our spiritual welfare. The number without hope when the year opened was about twenty-five. For each of these, and for our whole household, we ask your prayers. 

Yours, in behalf of the Seminary,  

SARAH H. MELVIN. 


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