Writings by Susan Dickinson

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  One of the present day can hardly 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 annunal [sic] cattle show in October.
Both took place all over the common, which was mown only once a year, it became a wild
jungle of every known weed from thistle to burdock, -- and being very marshy was
the happy home of of countless frogs and all sorts of bactrachians!

From early morning on commencement day it was the camping ground for fakirs
tents, peddler' 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
region about us,. These last, hand in hand, or even with arms entwined i closer
enjoyed with unsated appetite the joys of commencement --- the
common, and the wonderful, if to them meaningless, array in the old village
church -- (now college hall.) Very green, they were, as the French say, insouciant
and unattractive, -- yes, and 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 wonderful 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! 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 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 hali
ribald song, -- or ridiculous applause. [w/note in margin "write over": Mahomet might teach ethics and manners
better than Amherst college, one sometimes feels, such a flare has there been in
these new generations toward young might and right!

The Cattle show in the
beginning of it existence was an affair of genuine bucolic sweetness and simplici
ty. An address in the village church, of almost religious seriousness--

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

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Last updated on January 25, 2008

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