Writings by Susan Dickinson

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The Senior levee given by the President to the graduating class was the
social event of the year; occurring in August at the close of the term. To
this the villagers and friends of the Seniors were all invited. Weeks before-
hand the young ladies were in a little agitation over it; arranging becoming
gowns with a charming refinement of economy. As the Summer was so nearly over,
to these same young ladies at least, there was a sort of collapse after the
party and a little feeling of gloom in the earlier drawing in of evening
with its sad voiced crickets, and a rather pensive waiting for the return of
the students. But never was the slightest utterance given to that effect,
lest maiden modesty might blush to own dependence on these natural fascinating comrades. These levees were held in the sample
parlors of the President's house, only recently remodled [sic], and well adapted for the
unusual number of guests as the hall stairs and study and the rural sidewalks
in front of the house as well as the narrow porch on the North side, offered
abundant room for the strolling couples who wished to escape, -- ostensibly, -- the
modest glare of the astral lamps within. There was never dancing, never vaudville [sic]
of any sort. I confess there were flirtatious---whatever that was--entirely
un-French of course, in odd corners, especially under the stairs in the front hall
where a Puritan-backed sofa covered with horse hair, sans pillows, was conyerted [sic] into a rather stiff
Arcadia. I do not remember that any one was bored by these simple affairs. There
was music in a modest way, with the piano; I can hear now most plainly the artis-
tic rendering by in a strikingly clear voice, of the charming, "O Summer Night!" X as
sung by Miss Gridley, daughter of the notable Dr Gridley, the medical genius of
the village and the region round about. Her metropolitan grace and culture lent a peculiar
impressiveness to the staccato motive. In effective contrast was the sweet,
winsome "Wert thou in the cauld blast"-- as sung by Miss Fowler, afterward Mrs
Ford of Brooklyn, a granddaughter of Noah Webster, -- a wizard in person and power.
Everywheee [sic] at her ease she was intellectually and socially a rich leaven in
the village and at the head of her father's household, where she entertained her
own and her father's friends with a peculiar fascination. Of course there was

[written in margin:
X ask about author]

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

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Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
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Last updated on January 25, 2008

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