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Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), Introduction. (search)
e summoned to a preliminary entertainment. They there partook of an immense chicken pie, pumpkin pie made in milk-pans, and heaps of doughnuts. They feasted in the large, old-fashioned kitchen; and went away loaded with crackers and bread and pies, not forgetting turnovers for the children. Such plain application of the doctrine that it is more blessed to give than receive may have done more to mould the character of Lydia Maria Child of mature years than all the faithful labors of good Dr. Osgood, to whom she and her brother used to repeat the Assembly's catechism once a month. Her education was limited to the public schools, with the exception of one year at a private seminary in her native town. From a note by her brother, Dr. Francis, we learn that when twelve years of age she went to Norridgewock, Maine, where her married sister resided. At Dr. Brown's, in Skowhegan, she first read Waverley. She was greatly excited, and exclaimed, as she laid down the book, Why cannot I
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. New York, March 26, 1847. I believe the Quakers are right in supposing that a salaried priesthood are positive obstacles in the way of human progress. I think, too, that the vocation impedes individual growth. Great, good, and progressive souls there doubtless are among the clergy; but I do not think they are as large, as free, as expansive as the same natures would have been if removed from the social pressure to which all clergymen are obliged to submit. The most mettlesome horse loses his elasticity and bounding grace after plodding a while round the mill-wheel circle. You see how far apart we are! You always at home among clericals, I at home only among poets and artists! You reading Italian sermons of past centuries, I bothering my brain to prove to myself (I have done wishing to prove anything to anybody except myself) Goethe's theory of Colors, by a similar theory of Tones! You know I always wondered why on earth you were interested in such a b
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, May 11, 1856. Since you will think of me as an author, I am glad that you think of me as an alive author; for so long as I write at all, I desire to be very much alive. This is the second time I have walked out in stormy weather without a cloak. My Appeal in favor of anti-slavery, and attacking colonization, marched into the enemy's camp alone. It brought Dr. Channing to see me, for the first time; and he told me it had stirred up his mind to the conviction that he ought not to remain silent on the subject. Then came Dr. Palfrey, who, years afterward, said that the emancipation of his slaves might be traced to the impulse that book had given him. Charles Sumner writes me that the influence of my anti-slavery writings years ago has had an important effect on his course in Congress. . . . Who can tell how many young minds may be so influenced by the Progress of Religious Ideas as to materially change their career? I trust I have never impelled an
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, July 9, 1856. I did not intend to leave your New York letter so long unanswered, but the fact is, recent events have made me heart-sick. My anxiety about Charles Sumner and about the sufferers in Kansas has thrown a pall over everything. The fire of indignation is the only thing that has lighted up my gloom. At times my peace principles have shivered in the wind; and nothing could satisfy my mood but Jeanne d'arc's floating banner and consecrated sword. And when this state of mind was rebuked by the remembrance of him who taught us to overcome evil only with good, I could do nothing better than groan out, in a tone of despairing reproach, How long, O Lord! How long? Certainly there are gleams of light amid the darkness. There has been more spirit roused in the North than I thought was in her. I begin to hope that either the slave power must yield co argument and the majesty of public sentiment or else that we shall see an army in the field, sto
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, October 28, 1856. Did you take note of T. W. Higginson's sermon to the people of Lawrence, in Kansas? His text was from the Prophet Nehemiah, commanding the people to fight for their wives, their children, and their homes. What a convenient book that Old Testament is, whenever there is any fighting to be done. Many people seem to be greatly shocked by Higginson's course; but if they admit that war is ever justifiable, I think they are inconsistent to blame him. If the heroes of ‘76 were praiseworthy, the heroes of Kansas will be more praiseworthy for maintaining their rights, even unto death. But, It is treason; it is revolution, they exclaim. They seem to forget that the war of ‘71G was precisely that. It was a contest with our own government, not with a foreign foe; and the wrongs to be redressed were not worthy of a thought in comparison with the accumulation of outrages upon the free settlers in Kansas. This battle with the overgrown slave
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, 1857. I have lately been much interested about the young Kentucky lady Miss Mattie Griffith. who emancipated all her slaves, in consequence of reading Charles Sumner's speeches. She and I correspond, as mother and daughter, and I should infer from her letters, even if I knew nothing else about her, that she was endowed with a noble, generous, sincere, and enthusiastic nature. It is no slight sacrifice, at nineteen years old, to give up all one's property, and go forth into the world to earn her own living, penniless and friendless; but I shall earn my living with a light heart, because I shall have a clean conscience. I quote her own words, which she wrote in an hour of sadness, in consequence of being cut by friends, reproached by relations, and deluged with insulting letters from every part of the South. Her relatives resort to both coaxing and threatening, to induce her publicly to deny that she wrote the Autobiography of a female slave.
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, 1858. I was just about answering your welcome letter, when that overwhelming blow Death of Ellis Gray Loring. came suddenly, and for a time seemed to crush all life and hope out of me. Nothing but the death of my kind husband could have caused me such bitter grief. Then came your precious letter of sympathy and condolence. I thanked you for it, from the depths of my suffering heart; but I did not feel as if I could summon energy to write to any but the bereaved ones of his own household. You know that he was a valuable friend to me, but no one but myself could know how valuable. For thirty years he has been my chief reliance. In moral perplexities I always went to him for counsel, and he never failed to clear away every cloud. In all worldly troubles I went to him, and always found a judicious adviser, a sympathizing friend, a generous helper. He was only two months younger than myself, but I had so long been accustomed to lean upon him, th
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Mrs. Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Mrs. Lucy Osgood. Wayland, January 16,--1859. I have buckled to Buckle's History of civilization, though I said I would not read it because I dreaded being made uncomfortable by the point of view from which he looks at things. This making moral progress depend entirely on intellectual progress seems to turn things so inside out that it twists my poor brain. I care more that the world should grow better, than it should grow wiser. The external must be developed from the internal. It makes my head ache to look at human growth from any other point of view. That is the great mistake of Fourier. He is wise and great, and often prophetic, but he thinks to produce perfect men by surrounding them with perfect circumstances; whereas the perfect circumstances must be the result of perfect men. How can the marriage relation, for instance, be well ordered, until men and women are more pure? I have no sympathy with the doctrine that The body, not the soul, Governs the unfettered
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, 1859. Your package arrived on Saturday evening, but Theodore Parker had the start of you. He had sent me the sermon the Thursday before, accompanied by a brief little farewell note in pencil, which I shall treasure among my sacred relics; for my heart misgives me that I shall never look upon that Socratic head again. I read the sermon, forthwith, to Mr. Child, and a jewel of a sermon we both thought it. Though not a farewell discourse, it seems to have a farewell sadness about it. ... Newman's book on The Soul seemed to me a very admirable work. The Phases of Faith pleased me by the honesty of its confessions, and I read it with all the eagerness we all so naturally feel to arrive at the inmost spiritual secrets of another soul; but the conclusion left me very uncomfortable. It seemed, as the collegian said in his theme, to land me in the great ocean of eternity. I had travelled so far, and so confidently, with him, to arrive-nowhere! I cannot s
Lydia Maria Child, Letters of Lydia Maria Child (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Winslow Sewall), To Miss Lucy Osgood. (search)
To Miss Lucy Osgood. Wayland, 1860. You are almost constantly present with me, in these days of this declining year, and to-morrow I am sure my first waking thought will be of you and the dear one who a year ago passed behind the veil; that veil so dark and heavy, with merely a line of golden light around its edges, intimating the inner, invisible glory. More and more strongly do I feel, as I grow older, that this unsatisfactory existence is the mere threshold of a palace of glories; but reason is importunate with its questions of how and where. I strive to attain to an habitual state of child-like trust, to feel always, as I do sometimes, like a little one that places its hand within its father's, and is satisfied to be led, it knows not whither. Mr.-- is a great, good man, and when he lets doctrines alone his preaching always edifies and strengthens me. But he has no logic in his composition; not a jot; and sometimes I wish I had not. Sometimes I think the light from God's
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