Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
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Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., May 12, 1881.DEAR FRIENDS:
Before beginning a new journal-letter to you, let us finish the last one, which was sent to you in March. We forgot to write about Prof. Charles Hitchcock's geological lectures, an unusually full and interesting course, which he gave during the first weeks of the school-year. Those of you who remember the father would recognize the son at once. We see the likeness in many ways. And we ought to have mentioned the reception of seventy dollars from the Western Alumnae Association, which was devoted to the geological department. We who are here, read with interest of their annual gathering in Chicago, and wish ourselves in such a goodly company. Thanks for all their help in words and deeds and prayers. You must come and see for yourselves Miss Clapp's new zoological treasures of which we wrote, and the old ones also. The new ones, that she values much, are the glass models of invertebrates, as jelly-fishes, coral animals, sea-anemones, etc., which are a great aid in teaching, and she has also received some valuable specimens of echinoderms, corals, Neptune's cup, and others. A great "Helmeted Cassowary" has walked in among the birds; perhaps a relative of that voracious bird of renown "on the plains of Timbuctoo."
Prof. Young came one of the first days of this term, to begin his lectures in astronomy. You know his reputation as an astronomer; but you do not know how delightful he is socially, nor how strengthening and peace-giving his prayers, unless you have been under the same roof with him for awhile. And he is a very charming lecturer, talking familiarly and easily, and making his hearers see and understand, which not all very learned heads are able to do. Miss Ferguson came to attend the lectures, and while here, led us in our morning devotions in the Seminary Hall most acceptably and helpfully. Our old telescope - a good one still - is going with her to the Huguenot Seminary in South Africa. Mr. Williston thought the Seminary could not afford to give it, so he paid for it, and it is his gift to the far-off school that the mother-school regards with so much interest and affection. The little round observatory is sold to some one in town, and will be taken away in the coming vacation and put to some ignoble use, doubtless. One sometimes fancies an inanimate thing saying: "Ah, how miserable to have been happy!" Would that we were rich enough to have a summer-house on the spot where it has stood!
"The spring comes slowly up this way," and the summer has seemed far in the distance; but just now she has come with some of her hottest days right upon the chill, rainy days that May has given us, and " the woods are bursting into leaf, the meadows into flower." The arbutus has not been quite as abundant or beautiful as usual, this year; we think it was injured by the drouth of last autumn. The bloodroot blossoms have been so profuse in the botanical garden that the beds have looked like little snow-drifts, and the hepaticas have taken on richer tints and greater size than their wild-wood companions. It is still carlv to be out of doors long after supper, but soon how delightful and restful those hours will be! Long rambles in the woods, boating, and lounging in hammocks with book or fancy-work or merry talk, are the favorite sources of recreation. Our grounds grow beautiful every year; the encircling hills fulfill to us literally the promise, "The mountains shall bring peace." May all these dear girls drink in so much of " the spirit of the season that it shall be a refreshment and solace to them in the need of years to come.
May 25. Mr. Hooper of Boston is here just now, giving us a short course of lectures upon English Literature, with the same enthusiasm and interest that he showed when here last year. And Dr. Lord has lately given us his well-known historical lectures on Dante, Bonaparte, and Carlyle. We have had a visit of a few days from Mrs. Gulick of Santander, Spain. She spoke several times in the Seminary Hall, and with the aid of costumes and other things brought from Spain, and a blackboard, she gave us a great deal of information in a short time. How much interest we shall have in the school for girls which is to be opened as soon as possible in San Sebastian, tinder Mr. and Mrs. Gulick's superintendence. You have, perhaps, already seen an article in a recent number of Life and
Light which tells what they wish and hope to do. She and her children have been in this country for a year; Mr. Gulick is expected soon, and they will all return to Spain in August.
About eighty of the juniors have gone to Mt. Holyoke today, with their section-teachers; they went off in high spirits, with the big baskets of provisions for their picnic-supper, in the largest vehicle, and the ice-cream freezer tied underneath. They are having a delightfully clear day, and tomorrow we shall doubtless hear them say, in school-girl fashion, that they had a "perfectly lovely time." And the tonic of the fresh mountain-air, and the beauty of the prospect on every side will so quicken their appetites that there will not be a morsel left to bring back from those full baskets. The dining-hall looked rather 'desolate tonight; for many are away besides the mountain-party, but Prof. Young kept the guest-table in merriment by his lively talk, which was supplemented by the dry humor of Mr. Clark of Cambridge, who is here with Prof. Young to mount the new telescope. The Professor announced at the supper-table tonight that he had looked through the telescope for the first time since fairly mounted, to see the mountain-party, and that he saw one young lady with two long braids of hair, who bad two hairs out of place! (Nothing wonderful in that: two hairs in place on a young girl's head nowadays would have been worth noting!) The new observatory is at last finished and furnished; the acre of ground about it was graded, enriched, and sown just before a long rain, and now it is vividly green and enclosed by a pretty iron fence. The building is of wood, because better adapted to its purpose; the engraving in the catalogue tells you how it looks outwardly; within is a small recitation-room, the room containing the telescope, and various little " cubbyholes that only the initiated know the use of. All has been done and purchased under Prof. Young's supervision, the equatorial eight-inch telescope with its accompanying finding-clock, circles, micrometer, and spectroscope, the sidereal clock, the meridian circle, the chronograph, and whatever else was necessary to the complete outfit of an observatory designed not only for class use in the regular course of study, but for instruction in any kind of astronomical work. The glass for the telescope was finished by the elder Alvan Clark, who "never did more perfect work."
June 4. We received a note, at noon, from the president of the senior class, inviting us to be present on the grounds near Williston Hall, at 4 P.M. Certainly, we would go at their request, and at the call of everything out-of-doors on this rarest of days in June. Those invited gathered at the appointed time near the little old observatory, then the Seniors came and stood in a group opposite us, while one stepped to the front and read the Ivy Essay." Then followed the Poem, then the Song. Essayist and poet were crowned with laurel, then the class went to the southeast corner of Williston Hall, and planted the little ivy with words and ceremonies known only to themselves, but judging from the frequent bursts of laughter, the occasion was not a very solemn one. A few innocent or hardy juniors, who supposed themselves invited to the concluding mysteries, speedily heard the "Procul, 0 procul este, profani!" Other thoughts were ours, as we listened, and rejoiced in their pleasure and in the perfect day. How our hearts went out to them in renewed affection for all they have been to us, in renewed wishes and hopes for their future! How we saw afresh in their faces "sweet records, promises as sweet!" It will not be just the same when we see them again standing together on Anniversary-day to receive their diplomas; this afternoon they wore the dresses belonging to their school-life; we were on our own grounds with no lookers-on; they were "ours to have and hold" for a few weeks longer. They will be always "ours to pray for and remember." Last Tuesday was their class-day, spent on Mt. Holyoke, a most happy day, never to be forgotten by them. On Wednesday, they were invited, with all the teachers, to an evening reception at the parsonage. A week ago, on Wednesday evening, we had a pleasant gathering in our parlors of Seniors and juniors, with the teachers, to meet our guests, Prof. Young and his daughter, Mr. Hooper, and some others.
June 6. Miss Parsons, of the Constantinople Home, and her sister, have been here over the Sabbath. The girls wanted to go to Africa when Miss Ferguson was here, and to India when Mrs. Harding spoke to them. The work in Spain looked most attractive
when Mrs. Gulick told them about it, and now Miss Parsons hopes they will not all want to go to Constantinople, since only one new worker is needed at present. If only these four ladies were not to read this letter, we should feel more at liberty to say what we wish of their gifts of speech. It is surely no common gift to be so enriched "unto all utterance."
June 10. Death entered our household on Wednesday last, at noon, -he whose footsteps have not crossed our threshold for thirteen years. Mary Benham had been apparently well all the year, and on that forenoon had beerf in her place as usual. She sat quietly sewing in her own room and chatting with her room-mate, her cousin, when she suddenly threw up her hands, there were a few quick, faint breathings, and the soul had gone to its God. She was laid in her coffin-bed in her white anniversary dress, we placed flowers about her and in her hands, and the next day she was carried from our sight to her parents. Oh, what a homecoming instead of the one they had already anticipated so much 1 Only God can comfort, and He will. They know in whom they have believed; and she also knew, and lived as she believed. Before she came here, while at school elsewhere, she had slight attacks of illness which she could not well describe, passing off very quickly, of which she had never spoken to her parents. She had only one such attack here, on the Sabbath before she died; but she made light of it, and insisted upon going to church as usual. They were, perhaps, the forerunners of the final attack, which the physicians pronounced paralysis of the heart. She had not been doing too much on that day, nor during the year, her cousin says; and we have no reason to think she had. She had been excused from an exercise only once during the entire year on account of any illness, and her bright, cheerful face was as constant as her presence. We have only pleasant memories of her. She was an accepted pupil for next year also; now
Will any of our pupils who have not sought the way before, turn their steps thitherward now, because she has gone so suddenly? Will all our household seek more earnestly for preparation to enter there, and to live rightly here? So we hope and pray.
July 1. We cannot feel satisfied to send our letter to you with no other account of Anniversary-week than that given by the newspaper reporter; but there is such a confused mingling of sights and sounds and events, in the memory, that we must be content to write just as subjects present themselves, without any attempt at order or connection of events. The gift of more land from Mr. Goodnough, of Worcester, puts the Seminary in possession of a large part of Prospect Hill; all that borders upon our grounds this side of the brook and upon the pond, extending over to the road on the east side of the hill. Two New York gentlemen have given several hundred dollars toward the improvement of the land, and we already see in imagination the groves and shaded walks that they will enjoy who come after us, while we enjoy for ourselves the prospect from the top of the hill, and the abundant wildflowers, and the chestnuts, all the more now that they are ours.
One of the most pleasant features of the week is the coming back of the class who have been graduated twenty-five years, to be our guests in the house. Miss Sessions was their representative among the teachers, this year, and twenty-six came together. Was it not a goodly number? And they were goodlier in quality than in quantity! And what a good time they had, and how charming they were to us I It is a good thing for us all, teachers and pupils, this coming home again of the older sisters. We welcome them, and all from other classes, more heartily than they know, and regret greatly that we can see them so little. It seemed to us there were never before so many of the older sisters and daughters to welcome back. The classes who were graduated twenty and fifteen years ago each sent fifteen of their number, and there were meetings of the classes of ten, five, and two years ago. They all took supper with us on Wednesday. Mrs. Louisa Healey Pixley was here with her husband; they have recently come to make their first visit to America after twenty-four years of mission-work among the Zulus. Miss Ferguson, Miss Lester, and Miss Nellie Smith were here from the schools in South Africa, Lizzie Ballan-
tine Harding and Anna Ballantine Park, from India, Alice Gordon Gulick, from Spain, Miss Parsons, from Constantinople. The Alumnae meeting on Wednesday afternoon was a full and interesting one. Eliza Haskell Frisbie led us in prayer, then Emily White Smith who presided, gave an account of the beginnings of the Alumnae Association, and urged the formation of local or branch societies for mutual benefit and pleasure, and for the good of the Seminary. She gave a cordial invitation to all Holyoke pupils to be present at the meeting of the Western Alumnae Association, which is held annually at ten, A.M., of the Saturday before Thanksgiving, in the Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago. We heard from several local societies, the report of the Secretary was read, also the deaths and marriages of the past year, as far 'as known. We had short addresses from Mrs. Stoddard, Mrs. Harding, Mrs. Gulick, Miss Ferguson, Miss Parsons, and Miss Ward. Mrs. Pease was not able to be here until Wednesday evening, being detained by the illness of a brother.
On that evening came the gymnastic exhibition, one of the prettiest sights the eyes ever looked on. 'I'he gleaming white dresses, and the brilliant green and rose tarlatan sashes added to the effect of the beautiful and regular movements. We quote a few words from the Springfield Union: "The marching and drill of the broom brigade was a new feature, and called forth rounds of applause. Those taking part were appropriately dressed with caps and aprons, each one bearing a broom and having a dust-pan strapped to her back ' The determination with which they executed the order 'charge brooms' struck terror for the moment to the hearts of all young men present contemplating matrimony; but the vigor with which the weapons were handled promised well for the future welfare of the homes over which the members of the broom brigade shall preside." A gallery has been added to the south side of the gymnasium, so that a larger number of spectators can be present. On Tuesday evening the same exhibition was given for the school and towns-people.
On the Friday evening before, we listened to a delighful concert, given by the music pupils. It was to have been given earlier, for the benefit of Mrs. Gulick's school, but Miss Steele was called away for a time by a second bereavement in the death of our little Lotta's father, and it was necessarily postponed. The arrangements for Anniversary week were already made, and there seemed no place for it then; but as we listened we grew more, and more regretful to the close that our guests could not have heard it all. We want to write a word about the exhibitions in the two studios; that of oil and water-color paintings and charcoal sketches, in Miss Noble's, and that of crayon portraits and freehand drawing from models, in Miss Sherman's room. So many visitors expressed their pleasure and surprise at the amount and excellence of the work, that we are sure it was not to our partial eyes alone that it was beautiful and creditable.
The Senior examination was omitted on Thursday morning, because of the dedication of the new observatory. We walked to it directly from the exercises in church, and stood in the open air beside it to listen to the few well chosen words of Prof. Young and Gov. Long, and the prayer by President J. Seelye. Was not Mr. and Mrs. Williston's happiness in that hour something to be greatly desired, though so chastened?
One of the best things to tell you of the last days of the year is that we have good evidence that some have learned for the first time to love and trust in Jesus. The motto of the graduating class was "Una destinatio, via diversae." May not one of our household, scattered so widely now, fail of reaching that destination at last. Miss Edwards and Miss Cowles are on the ocean. They sailed yesterday, in the steamer Nebraska, for a long absence in Europe. Miss Ferguson sailed in the same steamer, on her way back to South Africa, taking with her Miss Post, one of the class just graduated.
To you afar off, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Isles of the Sea; to you who are doing home-mission work of whatever kind in our own land; to you who are doing the mother's or the daughter's work in the quietness of home, your Seminary home sends loving greeting. May our God supply all your need. From you, still of us, though not with us, we who are here entreat the prayer of faith that in the year to come we may be still more richly blessed in spiritual things and guided into all wisdom in temporal things.
ELLEN P. BOWERS.[end of text]