Writings by Susan Dickinson

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service, amusing only by its contrast to our earlier freedoms.

One of the present day only, can scarcely realize the importance and interest
of the two great occasions as fete days of Amherst back in the mid-century.
These were of course Commencement day in August and the annual cattle show in
October. Both took place all over the common, which was mown only once a year,
and had become becoming a wild jungle of every known weed from thistle to burdock, and be-
coming very marshy, was the happy home of countless frogs and all sorts of ba-
trachians. X

From early morning on Commencement day, it was the camping ground for fakir's
tents, peddler's carts, every imaginable sort of vender and most delightful of
all, lads and lassies in their Sunday best, from Shutesbury and Pelham and all
the hills and valley about us. These last, hand in hand, or even with arms en-
twined, enjoyed with unsated appetite, the joys of the common, and the wonderful,
if to them meaningless, array in the old village church, now college hall.
Very green, they were, or as the French say "insouciant", and unattractive -- yes with
white dresses limp before noon, -- but was it not Commencement day at Amherst?
And everybody was there, and wonderful young men were declaiming even more won-
derful pieces on a big stage, where all the Trustees in stiff collars and stiffer
dignity, were sitting with other important men and women of the valley, listening
in compact rows, to the eloquence displayed, and sizing up its orthodoxy quality!
I must not omit the place and deference always bespoken on this stage for the
returned missionaries, the idolized children of the college, for whose sacred and
brave ideals the college was prayed into being.

Alas! Let them any one attempt to report from Zion
now, at a commencement dinner, and they are soon drowned out by a new college yell,
or ushered to a speedy close by a half-ribald song or ridiculous applause.
One sometimes feels that Mahomet might teach ethics and manners better than Am-
herst college, such an impetuous flare has there been in these new generations toward young
might and right.

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

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Writings by Susan Dickinson Main Page
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Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
Laura Elyn Lauth, and Lara Vetter, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on January 25, 2008

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