Journal Letters: Chronological Inventory
Journal Leters: Index to Journalists
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Mount Holyoke Seminary,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS.,
July, 1886.DEAR FRIENDS: Our Forty-ninth Anniversary is over, and the few of us who still linger under the dear roof, and wander about these lovely grounds, begin to think of vacation rest. But you will be looking for news of our Alma Mater, and we wish we could tell you how bright and blooming she is, as she enters upon her fiftieth year. Our orator, Senator Dawes, paid her the very straightforward compliment of declaring that the older she grows, the younger she looks; and we think you will all say the same when you come to see her next year.
Since the letter of last February we have been going on as usual, with much to enjoy, along with plenty to do. Spring came earlier than is her wont in this region, and was lavish of her sunshine and flowers. On our return from vacation, April 9, we found good roads as well as charming weather-a delightful contrast to the experience of last year. On the afternoon of that same day our dear Miss Shattuck, enterprising as ever, set out on her journey to the Hawaiian Islands. She had been privately revolving the project all winter, and, adventurous as it may seem, had made up her mind to accept the favorable opportunity to go with Professor Hitchcock of Dartmouth College. While he is hammering at the rocks, Miss Shattuck will be gathering the flowers; and the collections of Dartmouth and Holyoke will doubtless receive many a treasure when these scientific travelers return. Oahu College, at Honolulu, will be Miss Shattuck's headquarters; but she will visit many other parts of the kingdom. At her last date she was at Hilo. She has enjoyed the tour thus far exceedingly, and seems to be very well.
Our excellent steward, Mr. Phillips, left us in April, much to our regret, and returned to Columbus, Ohio. The firm with which he had long been connected in that city were urgent that he should do so; and though he enjoyed his duties here, this, with other considerations, at length prevailed. His successor, Mr. L. H. Porter of Williamsburgh, takes excellent care of us, however; and we are thankful that this responsible position is still ably filled. Our old friends, the Lawrences, are residing in Hartford, Vermont, and like it so well that they are building a house for themselves there.
In May we had a fine course of twelve lectures on the history and philosophy of art, by Professor Goodyear. He always sets people thinking by his fresh, suggestive talks, which are highly appreciated. In spite of the difficulty of taking notes in the dark, one of the enthusiastic hearers actually filled a large book.
Our library building, whose shelves are now a good deal crowded, has begun to evolve "a new room at the north end. Although its development thus far has gone
on in a decidedly intermittent fashion, we hope to see it finished in the course of the season. Not a brick has been laid for nearly a month, the iron "girders" for supporting the floor not having arrived ; whether because there are "strikes" somewhere, we cannot say. The architects are Peabody & Stearns, the same who built Williston Hall. It is of course much more difficult to plan an addition than an entirely new building; the architects have bestowed much thought upon the plans, and we think the one adopted will meet our wants as well as is possible, all things considered. The present room will remain unchanged, except by the unavoidable closing up of the north window, and the opening of a door in the north-east alcove. The new room will be as wide as the present one, aside from the bay-window projections, but not quite so long. it will be filled up with cases compactly arranged, and will shelve twenty-five thousand volumes upon the first floor. In course of time, if necessary, it can be prepared to shelve as many more above them. These new cases are expected to contain the well-selected acquisitions of the next thirty or forty years. There will be double fire-proof doors between the new and the present room, the latter being more exposed than we could wish, by its close connection with the main building.
We have had the rare treat of a visit from one of Miss Lyon's first and most valued helpers, Mrs. Eunice Caldwell Cowles. She taught here, as you know, from the opening of the seminary till her marriage in I838; and a few years later, with her husband, Rev. J. P. Cowles, took charge of the Ipswich school, which they carried on till 1876. Though now in the seventies, her eye is not dim, nor her wonted brilliancy of mind and warmth of feeling abated. In listening to her animated conversation and watching her glowing countenance, one might think her scarcely past middle age. One morning she was prevailed upon to speak to the school at devotions. We wish there had been a brisk stenographer at band, so that we might be able to give you some idea of that talk - so witty and so wise, so discriminating and so kind. But though we cannot report it, we trust that the charmed listeners will never forget it. And you may be sure that it cheered and strengthened us, to have such words of approval from one who understood so well what Miss Lyon desired the school to be.
On one of the perfect days in June, during Mrs. Cowles's visit, we had a delightful family lawn party. In the shade of the trees just south of Williston Hall a few tables were spread, and seats scattered here and there for those who wished; the girls flitted about, waiting upon the few guests and each other, the green lawn gay as a flower-bed with the bright gleaming of their pretty muslins; and now and then, while we were enjoying our strawberries and ice cream, some of our sweet singers gave us exquisite music. We found this little domestic festival at once so delightful and so easily arranged that we all wondered we had never thought of it before, and promised ourselves often to repeat it.
Various missionary friends have kindly come to see us since the last letter; among them were Miss Martha Price, from Natal, who told us of her interesting school of Zulu girls; Miss Palmer, from the Huguenot seminary, in Cape Colony; and Rev. Mr. Goodrich, of China. And we have to thank others for most interesting letters from many widely-scattered fields, both in our own country and in foreign lands. Dr. Judson Smith, of the American Board, spoke to the school one morning with great earnestness and power, on the missionary work. He also gave, one evening, a lecture on Westminster Abbey, embracing the results of much historical research, along with its descriptions.
During the last term there was a noteworthy interest in the temperance cause. Miss Tobey, of Boston, twice addressed us in regard to the grand work of the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union; and we have now a regularly organized branch of the Union in school, with a large membership. They have held several meetings, and have plans for working in various ways. Miss Holmes, whom we were very glad to have with us last term after so long an absence, is quite familiar with temperance work, and has assisted to start a society also among the young ladies of South Hadley.
Not long before the close of the winter term, our friend, Dr. Laurie, was here for about ten days, and helped us much by his delightful talks upon the Lord's Prayer, and other portions of Scripture. His early and intimate acquaintance with the seminary - which goes back almost forty years - and his deep interest in its aims and work, especially fit him "to speak a word in season to those that are weary." During his visit he preached in the church, as well as at our own meetings; always, whether talking or preaching or praying, making us feel - to quote the closing words of one of his sermons - that "Christ and heaven are nearer than to our half-opened eyes it seems."
In regard to the religious state of the school, while we have not had so marked and general interest as sometimes, there has been much reason for giving thanks. When the year opened we found that some two hundred of our pupils were already church members, and about sixty others had some hope that they were believers in Christ. Less than twenty-five remained, most of whom became interested and expressed hope before the close of the year. Many of the Christians made evident progress, and a number of them used to meet by themselves on Sabbath afternoons to pray for the unconverted ones. And we have received many cheering testimonies from former pupils, that labor bestowed upon them here has not been in vain. Sometimes comes news that some one, who left us without a hope in Christ, has at length sought and found Him; often we hear of those from whom we hardly expected it as having become earnest workers, ready to do their part everywhere, and doing it well. Surely we may thank God and take courage.
Most of you have doubtless seen accounts of the closing days of the year, and we will add only a word or two about them. One pleasant little incident happened on the last Saturday afternoon. The procession was arranged as usual; but when the several divisions had all formed in due order and fallen into line, they marched on through the south wing, and down to the spot where stood an army of pretty new chairs for the dining-hall. The old ones having just been removed, each girl seized a new chair, and merrily hastened across the court to place it where it belonged. It was all done in a few minutes, and with no little glee. The new chairs are of ash, with cane seats, light, strong, and almost noiseless, being shod with thick rubber. And by the way, we must explain that the six dozen teaspoons mentioned in the last letter were given by the class of '60, not that of '61. You may be sure that they help us out wonderfully on state occasions. To return: we were favored with cool weather during Anniversary week; and though some days were cloudy, people journeyed hither all the more comfortably. The class of '61 mustered in good numbers, some twenty-five being present; and at the alumnae meeting they entertained us delightfully with their literary exercises. On Thursday morning the hall and church were crowded, although the skies were lowering, and there was a mist slightly resembling rain. Our fair procession went to the church prudently wrapped in gossamer water-proofs, out of which, however, the white robes emerged, looking as if nothing had happened - and indeed, nothing had. There was not a drop bigger than a pin-bead, and those so few and far between that they were hardly visible to the naked eye. In returning, there was no risk of any sprinkling.
Several of our teachers sailed for Europe the Saturday after Anniversary, including Misses Clapp, Hooker, Hazen, and Stevens, as well as Miss Martha Clark, a recent gradu-
ate, who is to teach here next year. The party numbers about twenty, and many of them being already friends, will doubtless be very pleasant. They are to return early in September, except Miss Hazen, who will remain longer, with her brother.
Since term closed we have received a collection of Turkish butterflies from Miss Fritcher, whom we beg to accept many thanks. To all our friends, far or near, who have kindly sent either gifts or letters, we say the same. Your correspondent on this occasion ventures to explain that the duty of preparing this letter came unexpectedly into her hands at the close of the term, and she asks your indulgence for whatever has been omitted that ought to have been said. We are hoping that Miss Bowers will be able to return next year, and again write these letters. Since she came from Florida she is somewhat better, and is now with Mrs. Blakely at Campton, N. H. Miss Ward is also improving in health, and just now is here, making us a little visit in vacation, as she is not yet able to do so in term-time. Mrs. Gulliver too is here, and a few other friends; but we shall soon scatter. Good-bye.
MARY O. NUTTING.
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