Guests in Eden


To gather into words my impression of Martha Dickinson Bianchi is about as difficult as to catch a humming bird, so swiftly would one mood of hers change to another.

At one moment one would be held spellbound by her re≠sponse to nature in its differing forms and phases. Her kinship with nature was confirmed by her poetry and her descriptions of scenery in her novels. I have not forgotten the expression on her face when once we stood on a height and looked from the pale moon on the east to the pastel shades of the sunset's afterglow. Then suddenly it might be, after such a breathless moment, that she would carry one to the area of wit or humor, using some unusual simile which, once suggested, seemed the only appropriate one, but at the same time laughable. This sud≠den changing of her atmosphere was one of her charms. just as easily was the transition made from wit to a depth of serious thought, by no means jocularly but naturally. She liked to slip from one plane to another, but her soul was sincere.

This charm and her loyalty-it has been my privilege to share for over forty years, and of the latter so many memories come back that I turn to them more fully.

When my grandfather, Reverend Aaron Warner, came to teach here at Amherst College, he and my grandmother soon found warm friends in Madame Bianchi's grandparents Hon≠orable Edward Dickinson, treasurer of the college, and Mrs. Dickinson. In her girlhood, my mother, Mary Warner, carried on the tradition with Emily Dickinson, (and her brother and sister) until she became a recluse. Later my father, Edward P. Crowell, professor of Latin at the college, and Mr. Austin Dickinson's wife increased the group. But neither of these friendships was so close as that of the third generation between Madame Martha Dickinson Bianchi and my sisters and myself. Thus for about one hundred years the two families were closely associated.

Madame Bianchiís friendship with my sister Anne, was the longest, for it began in very early school days in a private school. Meeting there they found themselves at once kindred

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Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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