Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
|6 printed pages.
The top of each new page is indicated within the body of the text below by a page number in parentheses.
Note: The text below was created from the scanned original by optical character recognition (OCR). Inaccuracies in OCR transcription are common, and it is possible that not all errors have been corrected. When in doubt, refer to the original page images.
Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., March 31, 1884.DEAR FRIENDS:
You have waited too long for the semi-annual letter from the Seminary home - will it be the less welcome? And may we write now of whatever we think will interest you most, without much regard to the order of events? Then we will suppose our great family to be at dinner, and meanwhile will tell you, instead of showing you, the changes in and out of the house. The reception-room comes first, of course; the folding-doors are always open Dow between it and the cabinet to make one room of the two for the receiving of friends a part of the furniture and pictures from the parlors has come hither, and the new carpet is as cheery as a bank of buttercups and daisies. The walls are made lighter in color, the window-shades harmonize with them, and the whole aspect of the rooms is bright and cheerful enough to make every new-comer want to stay. Crossing the front hall, which is newly carpeted, as well as its stairs, we open the door into the parlors, but we can hardly realize yet that these renewed rooms are in the Seminary. They are so sunshiny now! Carpet and paper are soft brownish-golden; in one room are chairs and sofa covered with peacock-blue plush, and one table-cover of the same material; in the other room the same articles are in terra-cotta plush. Light cane-seat chairs with cherry frames, and low "Shaker" chairs are scattered about in both rooms, and there are pretty little tables of ebonized wood and of mahogany. Curtains of Madras muslin, in colors that harmonize with carpet and paper, are at the windows, mirrors are on the mantels, and new vases also, new pictures are on the walls-all photographs from celebrated paintings-nothing is left of the old parlors save the woodwork and the walls. Best of all is that they are for family use every day! How we came by such acquisitions, we are not quite sure ourselves, yet; when we are, you shall share the knowledge, and meanwhile, we wish you could enter with us and join, some evening, or before supper, the groups of girls busy and happy over book or fancy-work or game, and rejoice with us that they have such a pretty gathering-place. Stepping across the hall from the north door of parlor B into the reading-room, behold another changed place I Enough was left of the money raised last year for the Seminary Hall chairs to purchase new ones like them for this room also; a long library table, some of the pictures from the old parlors, and a pretty brown carpet complete the new furnishings, and change the aspect of the room completely. Next, from this north corridor door, we will take you over to the Chamberlain house - Dwight Hall, Mrs. Foster calls it, and we hope the name will be formally given to it. All the outbuildings have been removed, and the grounds were graded last fall; repairs were made throughout the house, the two front chambers and the hall between were thrown into one long room which is for the use of the drawing-classes, three of the other rooms are used for piano-practice, and a family occupies others. So the questions about the use of the new old house have been answered, and the thoughts of our hearts about it when we wrote you last, have been fulfilled.
One of our greatest blessings this year is the matting on almost all the corridor floors; think what a relief to tired heads and nerves! And do you older sisters know that the first
and second morning bells are things of the past, and that the rising bell has become a very gentle speaker now that the name alone remains of its former authority?
Dinner is over by this time, and you are ready to turn from the house to the household. The catalogue, which we suppose you all see, will give you the roll of teachers. Miss Hazen was with us a few weeks, and Mrs. Stow through most of this first term; Misses Sessions, Hooker, and Sweetser came back to us from their delightful European journeyings before its close, and Miss Ellen Parsons has been with us since early in December. The school has been very full from the beginning. When the first Saturday evening came, we were three hundred and eighteen in number, besides our two little girls. "Just the number of Abraham's household," suggested one of the teachers; and we forthwith fell to musing over the Bible verse which tells the story, and fitting its words to ourselves. "Trained servants" of God; trained under this roof to the end that they may go out "armed" with His whole armor, to rescue those " taken captive "of sin and suffering and ignorance. Blessed weeks and year to come, if such shall be their result! As the teachers gathered for their first Saturday evening prayer together, with the question in their hearts, "Who is sufficient for these things," and the petition on their lips, "If Thy presence go not with us carry us not up hence," it was a blessing to know that many fathers and mothers of daughters here, as well as so many of you, were asking wisdom and grace for us.
We were greatly blessed with health through that first term, and there has been no alarming illness this term; it would be remarkable indeed if we had escaped all illness in such a winter. We hope the suit has shone on some of you more than on us, and that you have had less confinement within doors by reason of the frequent storms. Mumps came back with two of our girls from their winter vacation, and measles kept two others at home, but no more have suffered from these or kindred afflictions. And there have been no broken bones; but concerning mishaps which befell the skaters, both teachers and pupils, while the ice lasted, there can be only " an ambiguous giving-out "we could, an if we would." Doubtless, as they sometimes recall the experiences of those days, they quote to each other two famous lines from Mark Antony's funeral oration over Julius Caesar.
We had a very unusual number of addresses last term from missionary friends, and from those engaged in other forms of Christian work. Miss Lucia Kimball of Chicago, who is one of our graduates, spoke to us as a representative of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Mrs. Thane Miller came from a convention of delegates from Woman's Christian Associations, which had been held in Boston, to tell us of the work done by them, and to recommend the forming such an association among ourselves. Rev. D. L. Leonard of Salt Lake City told us of the peculiar beliefs of the Mormons, of the relation between elders and people, and many other things of interest concerning them; Miss Sybil Carter made us oblivious of time while she related her experiences among them. Dr. Sheldon Jackson gave us a deeply interesting and stirring account of the Alaska people and of mission-work among them which fitted us to be especially thankful over the tardy recognition by Congress, not long ago, of their needs and of our duty towards them. Miss Corinna Shattuck was here on the same day, and told us a very little, at the supper-table, about her girls in Turkey, to whom she expected soon to return. She has been in this country for some time, to regain health; was in Aintab, Syria. Rev. and Mrs. Isaac Bliss of Constantinople spent a Sabbath here, and Dr. Jessup of Syria gave us an evening address one week-day. A few weeks ago, the quarterly meeting of the Hampshire County Branch of the W. B. F. M. was held here. A collation was provided in the church parlors by the village ladies and the Seminary, and the meeting was held in our Hall, which was made very attractive by the groups of plants from the greenhouse. Rev. M. H. Hitchcock of Constantinople, Miss Clarkson of the Japanese mission, Mrs. McQueen, formerly of the Corisco mission in West
Africa, were the speakers, and letters were read from Dr. Mariana Holbrook of Peking, China. The meeting was a very interesting one throughout, and we were glad our girls could be present at such a gathering, though they certainly have had no lack of missionary information. Miss Edwards went to the meeting of the Board in Detroit, and gave us such full reports when she returned that we had the impression of having been there ourselves. Our Fannie Washburn, a teacher here, you know, before she went to Turkey, came back to its the first week of this term, after more than eleven years' absence, and how glad we were to see her! She was here for our day of prayer on the first Monday of the year, a day of quickening blessing to many souls, a more blessed day because of her words. In our Monday evening recess-meetings, items of interest concerning home or foreign mission work are given, and reports from different fields are usually furnished in part by the girls, at the monthlv concerts. Mrs. Oldham has always been ready and helpful -but we have not yet told you about her! She came to us in the winter of last year, and left us a few weeks ago to be with her husband until they go back to their native India in the early autumn. They are of English parentage, were converted under the preaching of Rev. William Taylor, and are in this country to fit themselves for taking charge of a school in India. Mr. Oldham was a government surveyor for some time, and had peculiar facilities for knowing India people and customs widely and well. He has made several visits here and given us a great deal of information in a charming way, and, whether in the village church on the Sabbath or in our Hall, he has presented the truths of Christ's gospel in such a cheerful, persuasive way, and with so convincing earnestness, that it must have entered many hearts to bring forth lasting fruits. Mrs. Oldham endeared herself to us all, and they will leave many wariti friends wherever they have been, when they return to India.
This is, perhaps, a suitable place to tell you of one evidence of the march of improvement here. One day, last year, the teacher conducting "Hall exercise" said: "Young ladies, later in the day there will be a number of American Missionaries in one of the window-seats in this room, and any one of you can take one if she wishes." Her hearers showed at once their appreciation of the extraordinary permission, and you will see how the tables are turned since the days of the old story, which you all doubtless know.
The newspapers gave you many accounts of the celebrations of Martin Luther's birthday on the tenth of November, but they didn't tell you what a pleasant evening we had. All the work of literary preparation was done in the intervals of school work, within a few days, and the decorations were made on the day of the celebration. The teacher of drawing had sketched a large crayon head of Luther, after one of Cranach's portraits, and under it were placed the dates 1483-1883, and those words so mighty to him: "The just shall live by faith." Our national flag was draped about a line taken front Fisher's History: "The Reformation made the free republic of America." It was in green letters on a white ground, and in white German letters on a green ground -a large green velvet banner -was the first line of Luther's hymn: "Ein feste burg ist unser Gott." We gathered in the Hall at half-past seven; a few friends were present, but the evening was too rainy for many to venture out. First came a brief sketch of Luther's life, then Miss Blanchard told us of her visits to Wartburg Castle and to Worms, describing particularly Luther's room in the Castle and his monument in Worms. A short account of his "Table-Talk" was then read, followed by quotations front the book, recited by girls who rose in their places, as they were scattered about the room. Then two girls stood together and read alternately, one in prose and the other in verse, very short compositions which were pictures of memorable scenes in Luther's life-six in all. Next came "The Sweet Singer of Eisleben" in which we were told of the influence of music upon him, and of his own musical compositions and his hymns; and one of our German girls then rose and repeated a part of the grandest of them all -
the Reformation Hymn of Germany- "Ein feste burg ist unser Gott." The words were uttered with such expression and feeling that we did not need to understand then) to catch the spirit, and when she ceased we sang the same stanzas in English words, set to Luther's own music. Miss Cowles told us then of her visit to the " Scala Santa," or "Pilate's Staircase," in Rome, and a large photograph added vision to her words. A poem followed, by special request, that was read last anniversary week, giving us pictures of Luther and his surroundings on the three occasions when those words, "The just shall I live by faith," came to him as the audible voice of God. An essay followed concerning the Lutheran Church, by one of its members; a brief extract from Carlyle's "Heroes" was read - the passage in which he speaks of Luther at the Diet of Worms, and a sonnet immediately following, showed us the sane scene, in its few lines, as in a little painting. "Luther in the judgment of the Present," read next, brought to our notice, as evidences of the character of that judgment, the preparations for the celebration of his birthday in his own and in other lands, and some prominent articles concerning him that had lately appeared in print, written by Papist and by Protestant. Last came a poem, "The Unfinished Bust." "In a museum at Copenhagen devoted to Thorwaldsen, is to be seen the great sculptor's last work, an unfinished bust of Martin Luther." Our evening devotions closed the exercises; Miss Edwards read one of Luther's favorite chapters -the tenth of Hebrews, we sang one of his own hymns beginning "Flung to the heedless winds," and Miss Shattuck led us in an earnest and most fitting prayer. We wish we could give you more of the evening; all the compositions were written by those who read them, save the extract referred to, and we were quite proud of our girls, and regretted greatly that no more friends could share the evening's pleasure and profit with us. Subjects were so chosen that there was very little repetition. Must it not be greatly good for us so to have contemplated together such a life of heroic faith and action?
We celebrated another birthday in a very different way on the evening of the twenty-second of February. "Lady Washington and her friends," to the number of about fifty, invited the whole family and a few others outside the Seminary, to their reception in the parlors. The dames and damsels of a century ago proved to be the senior class and a part of the teachers, when we saw them in modern garments, but they stepped into the places of the women of the Revolution most charmingly, and we are sure those women themselves would have smiled approvingly upon their representatives, could they have seen so far down the years. Miss Shattuck personated Lady Washington in her old age; and don't you know, without our telling you, girls old and young, how handsome she looked? She had a colored attendant, gay in plaid turban and gown, and two or three others were likewise attended. We consented to be deluded as to time and age, and to exercise a kind of "poetic faith" in all we saw and heard that evening, so it did not perplex us to turn from Madam Washington to pay our respects to the fair Martha Custis, nor to see among the lighter faces that of the dark-eyed Pocahontas, her gay Indian garments half-covered by her long black hair. We wish we could
To telle you at the condicioun
Of eche of hem,
And which they weren, and of what degre,
And eek in what array that they were inne.
stronger contrast to these were two serene Quaker matrons in white caps and kerchiefs and dove-colored garb, who walked among the more worldly crowd as simple and genial in manners as if they had never known any other life. They had an especial concern upon their minds for Colonel Stockton, the only gentleman of the party who was not a looker-on. (We bad called him Professor Young through the day.) He was a gay, worldly officer, past the prime of life, and when, interested in his welfare, they invited him to attend "meeting," he returned the courtesy by asking them to a dancing-party at his own house. Their mildly severe reproofs of such lightness, and his defence of himself, were worth hearing. How we wish you could have seen the whole quaint company! Could Copley and Stuart and Sir Joshua Reynolds all together have charmed us as did these century-old ladies who walked and talked at our side, smiling and beguiling? The reception-rooms and reading-room and the adjacent halls were overflow-rooms, as bright and pleasantly noisy as the parlors. We sang together a little; "Auld Lang Syne" and the old "Invitation," "Come, my beloved, haste away," but were very reluctant to "haste away," from the past to the prosy present when the iron tongue up stairs told us to "cut short the hours of our delay." One of the most gratifying sights of the evening was that of a number of fine foreheads which had not been visible heretofore this year. The change wrought in some faces was delightful indeed when the "smothering fringe" was removed, and the "upper lights of the face" - its most intellectual part - were brought into view.
Prof. Young, whether Col. Stockton or his own proper self, in the lecture-room or the parlor or the place of religious teacher, has been greatly enjoyed by us all, and especially by the senior class who begged and obtained permission from him to make him an honorary member. They were photographed in their ancient costumes and he stood among them. Their class motto is one which he gave them one evening when he conducted their recess-meeting, though he had no thought then of its use in such a way.
Prof. Mears of Williams College is our new lecturer in Chemistry, and a most acceptable one. His wife was one of our pupils. Miss Rose, whose name you will see in our catalogue, was with us two series, and we have experienced the benefits of her training in the examinations just closed as well as in the class-room through the term. The voices were, almost without exception, clear and distinct, in all the classes examined in the Hall. She gave us an enjoyable reading on the last evening of her stay, and the girls sent up to her during the reading a beautiful basket of roses by our child Lottie.
Our two little girls are very happy together, and thrive wonderfully in the Seminary atmosphere. Ella is eleven years old; Lottie, nine. Ella goes to school in the village, Lottie has private instruction in the house. Both enjoy greatly their hour of domestic work every Saturday, putting kitchen closets and drawers in order, and they do it very nicely.
Many small gifts have come to us this year from absent pupils, of value in themselves and for the sake of the donors. We ought to have mentioned in last summer's letter the curious and valuable Chinese book sent to us by our Marianna Holbrook. It is three hundred years old, a reprint of one much older; is a work on natural history, having pictures of flowers, trees, and birds on one page, with explanations opposite. Thirty dollars have come from the Western Alumnae Association which have been used in part payment for a collection of very old and valuable coins. A large gift came in December from the class of '58, who met last anniversary week for their quarter-century reunion. It is a copy of Titian's "Assumption," about six feet by four in size, secured through the same American artist in Rome who negotiated for our copies of the "Transfiguration" and the "Last Communion of St. Jerome." The painting is an excellent copy of the original in color, form, and spirit. Some of you may not know what the "Assumption" is. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is borne upward toward Heaven by an invisible power; clouds are under her feet,
but not supporting her; on the ground beneath her are the twelve apostles in every attitude of wonder, veneration, and heavenly longing; a crowd of cherub angels are all about the ascending Madonna, while one holds a crown over her head, and God the Father is waiting on high to receive her. This last is unpleasant to us, but the whole work is wonderfully beautiful, and one that requires and repays long study.
You will wish for some tidings from Miss Ward. She has been on the Hawaiian Islands since fall; is having a great deal of out-door air and horseback-riding and is gaining surely, though slowly, in health and strength. She has written letters full of interest about the islands, and her journeyings, and the Seminary friends whom she finds there. We do not know how much longer she will remain.
And now, after this long story of our outward living, what shall we tell you of the spiritual life -the real life! Most of our pupils called themselves Christians at the beginning of the year, and a large part of these are church-members. As the weeks have gone bv, we have been told of one and another who has said for the first time, instead of "The Saviour" - "My Saviour." We have seen with deep delight that many of our girls are growing steadily into "perfect women, nobly planned;" we know that a quiet work of grace has gone on in many hearts, because of its daily fruits-the prayers in the recess. meetings, the faithfulness in domestic work, the Christian spirit shown in many ways. May we not trust that in other hearts also, there is life which will later spring into bloom and fruitage? Many of you ask "Why do we hear of no great awakening there, as in years gone by?" We too, ask; is it because our hearts are not ready for it? Your own thoughts will easily suggest one reason in the prevailing type of piety in the churches from which this household is gathered. We need not be troubled that the strong wind and the fire have not come, if we can be sure of the still, small voice in the heart, but we do want to be more sure of that, with its constraining, restraining power. We who are teachers do most earnestly ask from you the prayer of faith that we may be constantly receptive of good, ourselves; that we may be so teachable under God's Spirit that we shall know well from Him how to live the life that is the best teaching, and how to be, in the Pauline spirit, "all things to all."
In closing, may the writer send greetings to personal friends to whom this goes, and hearty thanks for the letters and messages that have come in answer to the journals of past years? They have been more than ample recompense for all the labor of writing. And may she ask that those who receive this will send a card of acknowledgment? Only a word is necessary, but we have been left in doubt for several years past, in some cases, whether those entitled to the journals have received any of them. This will go to some who have never received such a letter before, nor known of one. Something like it has been sent semi-annually to missionary daughters for nearly forty years, but we want to keep up the acquaintance with you who are in the home-land in the same way. We are repeating in part what was said in last summer's letter, for those who did not see that. A card saying that you will be glad to have the letters in future will secure them to you, and you may know of classmates who will enjoy sharing them with you. May the triple blessing bestowed upon God's chosen people of old abide upon each one of you also. "The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace."
In the bonds of our Seminary-home, yours,
ELLEN P. BOWERS.
[end of text]