Writings by Susan Dickinson

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As a young girl, after this experience, I used to wonder as I removed my simple
adorments [sic], why in the many noon hours I had sat through a deadly monotonous
bible class under our host's leadership, he had never by word or smile lent a
relaxed beam of cheer or hope to to [sic] the simplicities of the New Testament.
As he unfolded them via Barnes notes, he weighed down my youthful spirit every
Sunday with his picture of me myself as a rebellious sinner in the hands of an avenging
God, -- with possible death before another dawn staring me in the face. I suppose I
got used to it, for I did not express my own religious life with thethis sacredest of
old churches, until some years later. What a loss of days of gentle adoring love of
God the father, whose very spirit was within me, and whose world was my splendor!
There were indeed queer, good men, in those days and as some one says: "they believed
like fury!

The diversions of those days fifty years ago were few and pallid pleasure | tame calm, leading almost invariably
back to the religious activities of the church. There was an occasional lecture, *
There were also the Tednesday [sic] evening prayer meetings in town and college, and the Ladies sewing society:
once a fortnight, where the clergyman and husbands coming in for tea. The college and
village were one in this. There was tea drinking among neighbors knitting in hand, varied
only by the serious entertainments I have mentioned. One might call any day in
the week, in those primitive times, without disturbing a club of any sort; a fact
hardly believable at present when man woman and child are so listed in federations
of every sort that the command to "enter into thy closet and shut the door", seems
an old time irony. In Mid Winter there were usually six weeks of "protracted religious
meetings" held. At these all clergymen in the region according to the habits of those days preached and held prayer meetings
which resulted in many admissions to the
church. As the snow lay two or three feet deep on the level in those Wintry days;
Amherst, with no street lighting, no trolleys, no railroads, seemed to my youthful
and perverse mind, animal spirits, and vigorous habit, a staring, lonely, hopeless place
; enough to make angels homesick. The lugubrious sound of the church bell still
rings in my Winter dreams! the bell even seeming to be out of wholesome tune
and human courage so that judgment day --
(E's remark about [?] [?] -?) A sensitive girl now dead & but poet crowned declared it
reverberated only to her the Judgment day!

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

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Writings by Susan Dickinson Main Page
Image reproduced by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.
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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