Printed Journal Letter 14: December 20, 1882 


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[FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY.]

Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., December 20, 1882.

DEAR FRIENDS: 

The "cherishing mother" sends her greeting to the children who have gone out from under the home roof. Take her Christmas blessing and "best wishes of the season" as a prelude to her story of the days of this school-year which are past. We are coming to the close of our first term with a great indebtedness upon us, but one that makes us glad of heart. What shall we render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward us? We have a full school, as many as can well be accommodated; the health of the family, as a whole, has been good; the entering class was better grounded than usual in the preparatory studies, it was thought; and it does seem to us that we have an unusually interesting, teachable, and helpful group of girls. How often, as they sit before us in the Seminary Hall, we say to ourselves, "Sweet records, promises as sweet." 

Miss Ward is absent for the year, the state of her health making it an imperative necessity; but Miss Edwards is in her place again, with health greatly improved and mind enriched by the treasures gathered up in her year of travel. Miss Cowles is here also, her companion in travel and in acquisition. Misses Nutting and Vitzthum enjoyed a summer vacation journey - one, to England and Scotland, with a short stay in Paris, the other, to her relatives in Germany. Miss Prentiss has recently returned from a tour of six months in Europe, and Miss Bowers from an absence of four months, spent mostly in England, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. 

There are not many changes about the buildings; plaster, paint, paper, and hardwood floors were laid on and laid down in the long vacation, and a passage was made by taking off the south end of the old basement laboratory, to furnish a short way from the new clothes-yard back of the gymnasium to the large ironing-room. Do you who were here years ago, and went to hear chemical lectures in that old laboratory, remember the quakings of heart as we stood up to encounter Prof. Chadbourne's keen, bright eyes and his examination questions upon his lectures? You know he is near us now, in Amherst. How pleasant to welcome him here again with Mrs. Chadbourne, and to hear the familiar voice lead us in our morning devotions! How fresh come back the sayings and doings of that rare child, Abby! 

Look from the windows of this new passage-way upon our quadrangle, freed from its former encumbrances. The grass has been beautifully green since the late autumn rains, the woodbine creepers are flourishing too-it is a fresh, inviting place for tired eyes to look out upon. Now come through the driveway under the gymnasium to its south end, step into the little room that covers the Artesian well, and then into our greenhouse! It is the gift of two who were pupils here some time ago, and who have dwelt together many years, strengthening year by year the friendship begun here by their joint labors of love for others. It is costing little for heating and care, and is a most refreshing source of pleasure already. Our gardener is the son of the Rev. James Bates, whom many of you will remember as the Granby minister for so many years. You know 

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very well how much Miss Shattuck enjoys this new greenery - it really seems to make her better in health. You must take a look at our tame gray squirrels as you come back through the driveway. They scamper fearlessly about, and are unceasing little beggars look at those pretty paws - hands rather - folded so pleadingly across their breasts, as they stand upright directly before you! There are red squirrels spending the winter in this same shelter, but they are not so tame. One of "our poor relations," our black horse, Bill, is dead. Some of us called him Samson, he was such a great, strong creature; but he was gentle and playful too, and there were sincere mourners over the death of the noble animal who had been our faithful and willing servant for eight years. 

There are several additions to our Art Gallery: copies of the busts of Achilles, Mercury, and Clytie in the British Museum, given by Miss Edwards; a copy of the beautiful "Capuan Psyche" in Naples, and small copies of the Ariadne, and the Dying Gladiator in Rome, given by Miss Ariana Hunt. Over one of the window recesses of the art rooms are casts, given by Mr. Williston, of five parts of the famous marbles in alto relievo, called, usually, the "Singing Boys," the work of Luca della Robbia, and now in the Il Borgello National Gallery of Florence. And we have a large and very fine copy, six feet by four and a half in size, of Domenichino's "Last Communion of St. Jerome," purchased in Rome, and the gift of the class of 1872. The rich coloring of the original painting is admirably well reproduced. The teachers who have been across the ocean have brought back many photographs, with other things which will serve to illustrate and make more real the studies in art, ancient and modern history, and literature. 

We are having "Hall exercise" in the dining-hall now, for the Seminary Hall has been newly plastered, preparatory to the frescoing which will be done in the Spring vacation. There would not be time for the plaster to dry in the coming vacation, so the work has already been done. One who was a pupil here when Miss Lyon lived, has given five hundred dollars to be used for the improvement of the Hall; it was beginning to look very shabby, and the gift is most timely. 

Deacon Eldredge, of Hartford, Connecticut, who died last June, left us a bequest of twenty thousand dollars, without conditions. The money has not yet been paid over to the trustees, and it is not decided in what way it shall be used. 

Prof. W. T. Harris, LL.D., gave us six lectures, in October, on the Philosophy of Education, and two illustrated lectures on Art. "How charming is divine philosophy" when so presented! And how he made us feel, as he did when here before, the dignity and responsibility and the blessedness of the teacher's calling I We have bad two quite charming lectures from Prof. Louis Eisen of the Boston Conservatory of Music: one on Ancient English Songs, illustrated fully by his own voice in giving us fragments from them; the other on Curiosities of Music, which was mostly an abridgment of an entertaining little book written by him, bearing that title. And we have had an evening brimful of delight in listening to the music of violins and voices, rendered by the Eichberg Quartette and the Euterpe Quartette, all young ladies. The remark o' one of the audience, as he left the flail, was too good not to be inserted here "I tell you," said he, "those girls beat the men-fiddlers all to pieces." (We hope the "men-fiddlers" will give us a concert sometime this year; it is evident that they must look to their laurels.) The voices of the singers had a freshness and freedom that was very enjoyable; one's thoughts went to the birds that sing with such abandonment at day-dawn or at night-fall. 

February 15. How the winter days are speeding away! The Christmas holidays seemed very short to the few who stayed here, as well as to the many who went to their homes or to friends, and this second term will be gone when it seems scarce begun. Our family is somewhat larger than it was last term; there is really no convenient place for another one. We did not quite finish the story of last term - a newspaper shall tell a little of it: "The observatory is under the direction of Miss E. M. Bardwell, and careful preparations were made for observing the transit of Venus. The morning was cloudy, 

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so that the beginning of the transit was not observed. The clouds soon passed away, and the dome was open during the day, and was visited by hundreds, the students and others, to see the image of Venus on the sun's disc cast on a screen by the eight-inch equatorial. The observation of the contacts at egress was a valuable one, made by R.H. West, of Princeton, New Jersey, who was sent by Prof. Young for the purpose. On Tuesday and Wednesday there was telegraphic communication with the Cambridge observatory, that the longitude of the Mount Holyoke observatory might be determined." The Signal Office Assistant at Washington has asked for a set of temperature observations, which will be begun next month; barometric observations will also be taken, by which our elevation above the sea level will be determined. Work upon variable stars will be done next term by Miss Bardwell and some of the pupils, in answer to a request from the director of the Harvard observatory, which has been sent to various observatories of the United States. 

Thanksgiving Day was spent here by most of the family, who sat down to a genuine New England Thanksgiving breakfast and dinner; and in the evening, after the cake and nuts, and the "flow of soul," to the "feast of reason" brought forth bv some of the young ladies from Mr. Longfellow's treasures, which was very pleasant both to eye and ear. A tribute to Longfellow by G. W. Curtis was read, and then followed recitations, readings, songs, and tableaux from the poet's works; an essay also, by one of our girls, concerning the legends in his poems. 

Mrs. Dutton left us two weeks before Thanksgiving Day, and was married on that day to her first husband's brother, Mr. Charles Dutton of Holland, Michigan. We let her go very reluctantly, but are glad for her happiness in having her own home again and her two children with her. Mrs. Wright, from Newport, Vermont, is filling the place of matron most acceptably. Her little Ella, ten years old, is with her, and Miss Steele's niece, Lottie Fitch, who is almost nine years old, is still here; so we have two children in the house, and they have grown to seem a quite necessary and important part of our family. It is good for us to have them here; perhaps loving thoughts and letters go oftener to the little sisters at home, because of them, and we are refreshed and brightened by the change from our books to the sayings of these who "are better than all the poems that ever were sung or said." 

The large girls, as well as the little ones, have enjoyed the snow this winter; they have had moonlight sleigh-rides, and have been out coasting a great deal in the sunshine, and in the bright evenings also, with some teacher who likes it as well as they do. They fought a battle of the Trojan war the other day; the Greeks and Trojans acquitted themselves bravely if we may judge by the amount of snow that flew; and there were some single combats wherein cheers and shouts of laughter moved the belligerents to remarkable deeds of valor; but it was not easy to see who gained the victory. We saw what was gained, though, when "army supplies" were dispensed both to warriors and to spectators at the supper-table. 

Late in January there came to us, one morning, the modern warrior, Mr. Valiant-for-the-truth, whose "armor rings on a fairer field than the Greek or the Trojan ever trod." He spoke to us rapidly for an hour and a half on the "Religious Signs of the Times;" and those of you who have heard him speak on the same theme need not be told how eagerly the large audience listened to the close. We went away with those old words sounding in our ears:; Who knows not that Truth is strong, next to the Almighty? Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?" 

March 14. The Ruggles Street Church Quartette of Boston gave us a concert not long ago, a lady pianist coming with them. Have you ever heard them? Do you know how they sing? While we listened it seemed to us that no music could quite equal the singing of well-trained male voices. 

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We had a very interesting lecture in the village church one evening, by Mr. Bridgman, one of our trustees, giving us a vivacious and picturesque account of his trip with one of the Raymond excursion parties through the far West. Another evening we had an illustrated lecture in the Hall upon the "Nibelungen Lied," the pictures thrown upon the screen being copies of the beautiful "Nibelungen Frescoes" in the royal palace of Munich. Prof. Young has just given us a course of lectures on astronomy. The demands upon his time are so great, and his engagements so numerous, that we fear each year's lectures may be the last we can receive; but we appreciate his words and his presence all the more while he is with us, and trust that the observatory, whose building and furnishing he directed, and his interest in us as a trustee, may secure him to us for many years to come. He spoke to us one morning in the Hall and led our devotions, and on Sabbath evening gave us a most helpful address, founded on the prayer of the publican. 

We were glad to have Prof. Chadbourne near us, but for how short a time I Two of the teachers went to Amherst the last of February, to attend his funeral services, and to see the face in death that we saw so little while ago in life; and now we have only the memory left to us of another of the old and valued friends of the Seminary. To the teachers who have been long here such losses seem much like family bereavements. 

Miss Bardwell has been lately absent for awhile on account of her widowed mother's illness and death, and Miss Holmes took her place for the time. Her care of her aged parents has kept her at home for two years past, and it was pleasant to have her among us again for a little while, as it is to have Mrs. Stow here a part of the time. She was here last term; has been in her own home in Hubbardston since. We have lately learned of Miss Ward's safe arrival under the roof of Mills Seminary, Brooklyn, California; and the good news comes that she begins to see a real improvement in health. She has had pleasant resting-places on the long journey, in the homes of some of our great Seminary family, and intends, we suppose, to visit the Sandwich Islands before coming East again. 

Our faithful Cornelius Rutherford is to leave us on the first of April, and a younger man is already learning from him bow to take his place. Nearly two years ago his third son died, the one who had been the farmer at home. The second son came home and took his place, but his parents think that he ought to be at liberty to finish learning a business that he began, so Cornelius is going to take the farm into his own hands. How we shall miss him! And he will miss us, doubtless, for he has been here almost thirty years; but his home is so near that he will often see us, and perhaps lend us his aid when Anniversary week comes. 

The winter vacation days included the first Monday of the year, but we observed the Week of Prayer by special meetings before supper, and in morning devotions and recess meetings. The Day of Prayer for Colleges brought a blessing to the souls of many, we are sure. More than half of those who had no hope they were Christians at the beginning of the year have such hope now; we have been blessed spiritually, as in other things, but we have not yet brought all the tithes into the storehouse, for the promise attached to such bringing has not yet been fulfilled to us. What is lacking? We have new buildings, new comforts and luxuries, new helps in all departments of study -He has given us our request. Oh, what need to watch and pray that He send not leanness into our souls! The second day of our next term will be the State Fast Day; it will be like having family prayers in the morning, before beginning the work of the day - our long day, yet how short, of eleven weeks. It is delightful to think how full of blessing such a day may be to us; would that this letter might reach you earlier, that we might beg you all to ask such blessing for us. We say "good-bye" to you now, as to each other next week. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you all. 

    For the Seminary,  
    yours,
ELLEN P. BOWERS.

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