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[387]

Late in December, 1908, came the horror of the Sicilian earthquake. She felt at first that it was impossible to reconcile omnipotence and perfect benevolence with this catastrophe.

“We must hold judgment in suspense and say, ‘We don't and we can't understand.’ ”

She had several tasks on hand this winter, among them a poem for the Centenary of Lincoln's birth. On February 7 she writes:--

“After a time of despair about the poem for the Lincoln Centenary some lines came to me in the early morning. I arose, wrapped myself warmly, and wrote what I could, making quite a beginning.”

She finished the poem next day, and on the 12th she went “with three handsome grandchildren” to deliver it at Symphony Hall before the Grand Army of the Republic and their friends.

“The police had to make an entrance for us. I was presently conducted to my seat on the platform. The hall was crammed to its utmost capacity. I had felt doubts of the power of my voice to reach so large a company, but strength seemed to be given to me at once, and I believe that I was heard very well. T. W. H. [Colonel Higginson] came to me soon after my reading and said, ‘You have been a good girl and behaved yourself well.’ ”

The next task was an essay on “Immortality,” which cost her much labor and anxious thought.

March 3. ... Got at last some solid ground for my screed on ‘Immortality.’ Our experience of the goodness of God in our daily life assures us of His ”

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