Printed Journal Letter 17: December 23, 1884 


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[FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY.]

Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS., December 23, 1884.

DEAR FRIENDS: 

You remember how Froissart and the other early chroniclers used to ride on horseback from town to town and watch history as it was making, and write it down while it was yet in the heat of action, and taking shape before their eyes. That would be a cheerful task. But what shall be said for this poor chronicler to whom has come the message today, Write what you didn't see, that of which you were not always a part; make a record of Anniversary, from which you were absent, and the events of this fall, when you were six hundred miles away? Never fear! Those charming, semi-annual letters which you have welcomed these years past, from the daughter in the old home, are not to stop; but the sensitive pen that writes them has been charged to rest this time. Long watching by her dear friend, Mrs. Burt, of Amherst, in her sickness and death this season, has been a great tax upon Miss Bowers's strength. She is now back to take her classes, but feels that her loss is great and that another stake in her pilgrim tent has been pulled up, for her home was with Mrs. Burt. 

As to events here, since your last letter - Prof. Goodyear of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, gave us a dozen lectures last summer with his stereopticon, upon Architecture and Painting. He treats art philosophically and with feeling, and the tone of liberal culture of his lectures is delightful. They were supplemented, this fall, by Prof. Mather's well-known course upon Sculpture. 

Young Prof. Wilson, of Williamstown, who is to be connected with the new Bryn Mawr College, the coming year, was here in June with some wonderful chalk drawings of " types " , and some suggestive things to say upon Biology. This department of study expands in scope and interest here. Prof. Sherwood came up from Boston, lately, to give a piano recital in the evening, and another delightful entertainment was afforded by the String Quartette, of Boston. 

Prof. Mears, of Williams College, is now delivering the usual course of Chemistry lectures. 

Dr. Lord gave two or three of his Historical series, which are yet spared from the publisher, and Prof. Young is coming next term to instruct us in Astronomy. Those will be precious hours when we sit at his feet and listen as to one who may speak with authority about the wonders of sun and stars. 

These are the chiefest intellectual helps which have come to us during the last half year. We have had social privileges which we prize no less. Rev. Samuel F. Smith and his wife, whose acquaintance Miss Edwards and Miss Cowles cherish as a souvenir of their European travel, visited the Seminary, and, most appropriately, on the morning of Decoration Day, when flags were flying and the village was astir as it is but few times in the year, Dr. Smith addressed us at devotions, and after telling us the circumstances of his writing his famous hymn, 

    My country, 'tis of thee, 
    Sweet land of liberty, 
    Of thee I sing,
the school sang it more heartily than ever before in their lives. Miss Edwards and Miss Cowles have since been down to Newton, to help these venerated friends celebrate their golden wedding, and report that they had "a golden time." 

Our beloved Mrs. Gulliver has been here for some weeks this fall, to the joy of everybody and to the benefit of her own health. It is possible that some of you have not yet heard of the death of her husband in the spring. Mrs. Kate Pond Williams came for a few days - her first visit here since her return from the school of her love in Constantinople. Other missionary 

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friends have been coming and going, as usual. Mrs. True, of the Union Missionary Society of New York, was here to tell of her experience in Japan; and, though it had been a year of an unprecedented amount of missionary intelligence, the school listened intently, one warm summer evening, to Mrs. Layyah Barakat, of Syria, whose story has doubtless thrilled many of your hearts, too. 

Anniversary time brought Miss Sears, class of '69, on the eve of her return to Mardin, and her classmate, Miss Washburn, of Marsovan, and Mrs. Cobleigh of '70 from her Home Missionary field in Washington Territory, and Mrs. Lizzie Green Of '58, who, notwithstanding her three boys that voted this fall, is so fresh and young as to be taken for her reverend husband's second wife! 

And now that it has been named, the chronicler may as well introduce here whatever she has heard of Anniversary week. 

Dr. Vincent, of Chautauqua fame, gave the address; there were some very good compositions, generally read by their authors; at the Alumnae Meeting, conducted by Mrs. Pease, the Chicago, Boston, New Haven, and Worcester Branches of the Association were reported by delegates, a poem was presented by Miss Sophie Eastman, Auld Lang Syne was sung, they closed with the Doxology, and adjourned to meet June, '85. 

The return each summer of a twenty-five-years'-old class has come to be an anticipated event. They come back, these matrons in whom are only half concealed the girls that went away, like ships that have run into the old harbor after a long cruise. This year there were present, graduates, husbands and children, together, about twenty-five to represent the class of '59. A little extract from Mrs. Stow's paper for that reunion will suggest its interest: "Our President relates that on her uncle's first visit here, her section teacher as the custom was 'went round the house' with them. Coming to Room C, the teacher remarked, as she threw open the door This room is devoted to the Cabinet of Natural History.' A glance through the doorway sufficed to take in the collection -one rattlesnake and one butterfly. Verily the mustard-seed has grown. The very roominess of those empty cases told of faith. With what results that faith has wrought let the Cabinets of Williston Hall today bear witness!" The subject of the paper was, "The Seminary, As it was in Our Day, and Subsequent Changes." 

The Annual Trustee Meeting, following the modern departure, added its first women members, Miss Blanchard and Mrs. A. L. Williston, to the Board. This will gratify the Alumnae. Of all Anniversary week the central event, that for which trustees are made and the Seminary itself, another Senior Class was launched upon t ' he world. They were a goodly sight, that eager, earnest forty-five, and their promise kindled hope in us, as they went out amid the heart-breaking of separation from one another, to their waiting lot and service. We think of them now, scattered their many ways, with the more confidence, because they have a cover for themselves, a shield of faith, when the fiery darts fly. They had been chastened in the death of their classmate, Miss Emma Stockwell, of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, a delicate and gentle girl, who went on with them until a few weeks after Christmas vacation, when the brave fight against weakness could not be kept up any longer. She went home and faded from earth before the first flowers came. Not long after, tidings were received of the death of Miss McCalister, of the Middle Class, who was here a part of the opening term. We are very thankful that we can say of both these girls they were disciples of the Master, and we believe they are with Him. And now, the dark messenger, whose repeated warnings had come so near, has but a few weeks ago approached us, and crossed our very threshold, and laid his hand on one among us, fair and young and dear. Miss Hattie Hutchings, of Amherst, whose mother is Clara Dana, of the class of '59, was ready for the Senior Class, but, instead of joining it, was doing some advance work in Physics and Latin for a few months, and postponed graduation till the coming year. She was taken ill on Friday, and died of pneumonia the following Thursday. Her mother was with her the last days of her life, doing all that tender ministry can ever do. Hattie had no fear nor care about the change she felt was before her. Her Saviour was beside her, and to those watching, her dying was a happy going home. It was a rare, beautiful death, that, as one said, seemed to bring Heaven near without casting the shadow of the grave. One of her most intimate companions said that in her three years' acquaintance, she never knew Hattie to cry but once, and that was when refused to have three 

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studies. In her last conscious hours she talked much of her father, who had been dead some years, and wanted every one to forgive her, though nobody could remember an occasion that required forgiveness. 

One reason that this death left so bright an impression, was the happy state of the school. It has received a marked and gracious spiritual quickening this term, the fruit in part of many faithful messages God's servants have been bringing to us. The very second day of the term came good Bishop Huntington, and spoke with power about the spiritual understanding. One of the teachers said it seemed more like having Dr. Kirk back again than ever since he left us. A week later brought Mr. and Mrs. Henry Grattan Guinness, of London, who spoke upon general Christian work and mission work on the Congo. The next Sunday evening, Mr. Oldham, whose talks have always gone to the hearts of the girls, tenderly addressed them once more, before sailing with his wife for India. Let an extract from a letter written by Mrs. Stow, give the record here: "The Oldhams left behind them Mr. LeReux and Mr. Marais, from South Africa, bringing these six representatives of Europe, Asia, and Africa, between Friday and Tuesday. On Wednesday following, Mr. and Mrs. Moody were our guests. Mr. Moody spoke in the church in the afternoon and evening. Sermon in the evening had four texts. Substance, respectively, Receive Him, Believe Him, Take Him, Trust Him. At the close of sermon, Mr. Moody asked all Christians to bow their heads in silent prayer, and then invited all to rise who were ready to receive and believe. Nineteen rose. At the Second meeting Mr. Moody talked. still more as a tender father yearning over beloved children, sought to make the way plain as language can make it - used faithful warnings, all very earnest as well as tender: wished to help every halting one, to strengthen those ready to say, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid,' and therefore asked such to say, I will, in bearing of us all. It was touching and thrilling to bear one and another responding, I will,' 'I will,' 'I will."' No excitement apparent, but a deep feeling bound us all. Mr. and Mrs. Moody must leave by the first train next morning, so devotions preceded breakfast, and Mr. Moody invited to the parlor all who would like to meet him. The next morning we were addressed by Mr. Bliss, former pastor here, whose remarks, as Mr. Moody's had been, were calculated to be as helpful to Christians as to the impenitent." 

The Evangelist, Mr. Underwood, followed Mr. Moody, preaching twice daily in the church, and conducting morning prayers for us with much tact and wisdom, and with fruitful results. About twenty girls give evidence that they have begun the new life since the term opened, leaving but very few in the whole two hundred and seventy who are without a good hope. But what these weeks of progress have been to Christians, as well as others, was apparent in the weekly prayer-meeting last Thursday night. Miss Blanchard had asked the school to write notes without their signatures, confessing the spiritual blessings they had received this term, and it was strengthening to faith to hear the many and expressive notes they had presented in response. They had "become Christians;" they had "received answer to the prayer of years;" they had "learned to love God's Word;" they had "found the 'half-hour' precious;" they had felt the kindling of "love," inspiration to "service." The teachers speak of the honesty they have noticed in little things, on the part of the school, and vou must hear of one beautiful thing they have been doing. They have a club called the "Sewrosis," which originated with some of the Seniors, and they have been devoting these precious Wednesday afternoons before Christmas to making clothes for poor children. They will send a box of flannel under-garments to a children's hospital near Boston, this week. Only those who know how time is filled here, know what this labor of love is worth. Our day begins early. It almost surprises ourselves to thread a dark hall at quarter before seven in the morning and come upon about twenty girls who are flying briskly between the Domestic and Dining Halls, as they have been for a half hour to all hour, in preparation for breakfast. 

Friends of the Seminary continue to remember it with desirable gifts. The Alumnae of the Hawaiian Islands have lately sent an oil painting of "Diamond Head," a peak near Honolulu; the Boston Alumnae sent one hundred and fifty-five dollars, which was spent on new microscopes (I believe those Botany and Zoology teachers will take all the microscopes they can lay their hands on!), and a hundred and seventy dollars from the Worcester Association 

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was devoted to a fine enlarged microscope, especially for the mineralogy department. From the Boston treasurer has also come seven hundred dollars, for the Educational Fund. 

The Seminary has been always rich in the affection of her children, and she has been specially blessed since the death of her early trustees in those who supply their places. We thought there could never be another Deacon Porter, but God has raised up for us those whose active ministry is felt on every hand. The funds of the treasury are carefully managed, and made to yield the most they may; and teachers and pupils feel that their needs and comfort are remembered. Don't forget what a new touch of home the house gained when the parlors were furnished last year and thrown open to daily use! The summer improvements were chiefly in the painting of blinds and frescoing the long main hall on the first floor, and the construction of two sunny sitting-rooms for study, out gf a part of the furniture room at the end of the south wing. Our cords were lengthened by the purchase of the mill property. It includes the paper-mill, the upper pond, and three tenement-houses, the tenants of which rejoice at the change of ownership, since the houses have been made more comfortable for winter. The object of the purchase is to get control of the water power; and shall I tell you what Miss Shattuck's far-seeing, chemical mind prophesies? "That water will be turned into light for this house some day!" 

Goodnough Park is developing. A winding carriage road takes you up Prospect Hill to the Pavilion on the summit. It is a twelve-sided wooden building painted dark red, and is both ornamental and serviceable. Out in Williston Hall, chained to the ceiling of the fossil bird-track room, is our latest acquisition, the skeleton of a whale, fifty-five feet long. The whale was taken off Cape Cod, and has been for more than a year in the hands of Dr. Ward, of Rochester, for maceration, before its bones arrived here. Up in the cabinet case of the Art Gallery is a fascinating collection of Greek and Roman coins, lately purchased from Dr. Nutting, who made the collection under specially favorable circumstances during his missionary service in the East. One third of the coins are silver, the rest of bronze. They begin with a coin of Athens twenty-four hundred years old, and many of them were struck at important cities, or upon the battle-grounds, 'of the East. Tigranes's head is there, wearing a Persian diadem, and Cleopatra's, with Antony's on the same coin; and Diocletian, and Antoninus Pius, the evil and the good alike. 

Miss Samuel, teacher of mathematics for several years, has left the Seminary to study medicine, and Miss Spooner, of the Latin Department, went in the autumn to accept the important post of Lady Principal in Oahu College. We are pleased to welcome Miss Smith, of Middlefield, to our corps of teachers, one who was never a student here, but a graduate of Oberlin. We expect a great deal of good to come to us from this gift of that honored institution. 

We are sorry that we have no better report to make of Miss Ward's health. She is in California, and her friends and she are called to wait patiently for a recovery that is slowly coming. We are very solicitous for the health, even the life, of Mrs. Bridgman, wife of our Trustee. She lies at her home in Northampton, on the bed she has not left for fourteen weeks, the object of her daughter's devoted care. All who have seen her here, will remember the gentle dignity and womanliness that was an atmosphere about her, and some of us know how large is the place she fills in her home and church and community. We are about to separate for the vacation. Miss Blanchard will spend it in New York City, and Miss Edwards and Miss Shattuck go to the Exposition in New Orleans. Won't that floral exposition be glad to see Miss Shattuck coming? 

The air is full of greetings as we send ours to you. Dear friends, in this hallowed Christmas-time, when the great world-gladness seems to take us all in its embrace, may there not be one - the saddest of you all - not one - the most stripped of all by the wear of life's journey - but hears the voice of "peace" from the heavens of peace, and from within her own soul, and may every one of us have something to spare from herself for those that are lost and out of the way. 

In behalf of the Seminary, 

Yours sincerely, 

ELLEN C. PARSONS. 


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