AUNT JANE'S HERO

Aunt Jane's Hero by Elizabeth Prentiss.

Aunt Jane's Hero was published in 1871. It is hardly inferior to Stepping Heavenward in its pictures of life and character, or in the wisdom of its teaching. The object of the book is to depict a home whose happiness flows from the living Rock, Christ Jesus. It protests also against the extravagance and other evils of the times, which tend to check the growth of such homes, and aims to show that there are still treasures of love and peace on earth, that may be bought without money and without price.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

Aunt Jane was a widow who was rich with wisdom and advice for everyone she knew. Horace was injured in the Civil War which helped turn his soul to God. Because of Aunt Jane's advice, Horace courageously went ahead with his marriage plans while having little means to support a family. Horace and Maggie demonstrated a lifestyle that showed what is important in life: two hearts that loved each other and God. They did not have many material possessions, but they valued their riches in Christ. Aunt Jane said to Horace, "The truth is, I want you to set an example to the hosts of young men who are living unsatisfactory, bachelor, boarding-house lives. In nine cases out of ten pride lies at the bottom of these lives. Because they can't begin where their fathers and mothers left off, they won't begin at all. They dry up and stagnate for want of an object."—Curiosmith (2013).

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AVIS BENSON; OR, MINE AND THINE, AND OTHER STORIES

Avis Benson; or, Mine and Thine, and other Sketches by Elizabeth Prentiss.

This is a collection of pieces that had already appeared in the Chicago Advance and in the New York Observer. It met with a cordial welcome and has had a large circulation.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

FLOWER OF THE FAMILY (THE): A BOOK FOR GIRLS

The Flower of the Family: A Book for Girls by Elizabeth Prentiss.

The year 1854 was marked by the birth of her fourth child, and by the publication of The Flower of the Family. This work was received with great favor both at home and abroad. It was soon translated into French under the title, La Fleur de la Famille.The Flower of the Family was translated into German,—as were also Stepping Heavenward, The Percys, Fred and Maria and Me,—by Miss Marie Morgenstern, of Gottingen. Some omissions in the version of Stepping Heavenward mar a little the vivacity of the book; but otherwise her work seems to have been very carefully and well done, and to have met with the warm approval of the German public.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

FRED AND MARIA, AND ME

Fred and Maria, and Me by Elizabeth Prentiss.

Fred and Maria and Me first appeared anonymously in the Hours at Home, in 1865. It had been written several years before, and, without the knowledge of Mrs. Prentiss, was offered by a friend to whom she had lent the manuscript, to the Atlantic Monthly and to one or two other magazines, but they all declined it. She herself thus refers to it in a letter to Mrs. Smith, July 13: "I have just got hold of the Hours at Home. I read my article and was disgusted with it. My pride fell below zero, and I wish it would stay there." But the story attracted instant attention. "Aunt Avery" was especially admired, as depicting a very quaint and interesting type of New England religious character in the earlier half of the century. Such men as the late Dr. Horace Bushnell and Dr. William were unstinted in their praise. In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated a few months later, Mrs. Prentiss writes: "Poor old Aunt Avery! She doesn't know what to make of it that folks make so much of her, and has to keep wiping her spectacles. I feel entirely indebted to you for this thing ever seeing the light." When published as a book, Fred and Maria and Me was received with great favor, and a wide circulation. In 1874 a German translation appeared. Although no attempt is made to reproduce the idioms, much of the peculiar spirit and flavor of the original is preserved in this version.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

This is an amusing story of Aunt Avery and her nephew, Fred, who was always asking for help. Her soft heart gave him money to get his business going and for whatever else. Aunt Avery, who had never been 20 miles from where she was born, lacked knowledge in the ways of the world. She was unsettled when she went to New York and saw what Fred was doing with the money, but Aunt Avery's quaint ways that were based on the Bible were honored by God.—Curiosmith (2014).

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GENTLEMAN JIM

Gentleman Jim by Elizabeth Prentiss.

The latter part of June she made a short visit with her husband to Montreal. A pleasant incident of this journey was an excursion to Quebec, where two charming days were spent in seeing the Falls of Montmorenci, the Plains of Abraham, and other objects of interest in and about that remarkable city. During the ride in the cars from Montreal to St. Albans, she called the attention of her husband to a paragraph from an English newspaper containing an account of the death of a miner by an explosion, on whose breast was found a lock of hair inscribed with the name of "Jessie." She remarked that the incident would serve as an excellent hint for a story. This was the origin of Gentleman Jim,the pathetic little tale published shortly after her death.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

GOLDEN HOURS: HYMNS AND SONGS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Golden Hours: Hymns and Songs of the Christian Life by Elizabeth Prentiss.

The "poor little book" appeared under the title of Religions Poems, afterwards changed to Golden Hours; Hymns and Songs of the Christian Life. In a letter of Mrs. Prentiss to a friend, written in 1870, occurs this passage: "Most of my verses are too much my own personal experience to be put in print now. After I am dead I hope they may serve as language for some other hearts. After I am dead! That means, oh ravishing thought! that I shall be in heaven one day."

Until the fall of 1873 her husband and two or three friends only knew of the existence of these verses, and their publication had not crossed her mind. But shortly after her return from Dorset she was persuaded to let Mr. Randolph read them. She soon received from him the following letter:

The poems must be printed, and at once! "We"—that is, the firm living at Yonkers—read aloud all the pieces, except those in the book, at one sitting, and would have gone on to the end but that the eyes gave out. Out of the lot three or four pieces were laid aside as not up to the standard of the others. The female member of the firm said that Mrs. Prentiss would do a wrong if she withheld the poems from the public. This member said he should give up writing, or trying to write, religious verses.

I am not joking. The book must be printed. We were charmed with the poems. Some of them have all the quaintness of Herbert, some the simple subjective fervor of the German hymns, and some the glow of Wesley. They are, as Mrs. R. said, out of the beaten way, and all true. So they differ from the conventional poetry. If published, there may be here and there some sentimental soul, or some soul without sentiment, or some critic who doats on Robt. Browning and don't understand him, or on Morris, or Rossetti, because they are high artists, who may snub the book. Very well; for compensation you will have the fact that the poems will win for you a living place in the hearts of thousands—in a sanctuary where few are permitted to enter.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).

GRISELDA: A DRAMIC POEM IN FIVE ACTS

Griselda: A Dramatic Poem in Five Acts, translated by Elizabeth Prentiss from the German by Friederich Halm.

The "German tragedy" referred to fell into her hands in the spring of 1869, and her letters, written at the time, show how it delighted her. It is, indeed, a literary gem. The works of its author, Baron Münch-Bellinghausen—for Friederich Halm is a pseudonym—are much less known in this country than they deserve to be. He is one of the most gifted of the minor poets of Germany, a master of vivid style and of impressive, varied, and beautiful thought. Griselda first appeared at Vienna in 1835. It was enthusiastically received and soon passed through several editions.

The scene of the poem is laid in Wales, in the days of King Arthur. The plot is very simple. Percival, count of Wales, who had married Griselda, the daughter of a charcoal burner, appears at court on occasion of a great festival, in the course of which he is challenged by Ginevra, the Queen, to give an account of Griselda, and to tell how he came to wed her. He readily consents to do so, but has hardly begun when the Queen and ladies of the court, by their mocking air and questions, provoke him to such anger that swords are at length drawn between him and Sir Lancelot, a friend of the Queen, and only the sudden interposition of the King prevents a bloody conflict. The feud ends in a wager, by which it is agreed that if Griselda's love to Percival endure certain tests, the Queen shall kneel to her; otherwise, Percival shall kneel to the Queen. The tests are applied, and the young wife's love, although perplexed and tortured in the extreme, triumphantly endures them all. The character of Griselda, as maiden, daughter, wife, mother, and woman, is wrought with exquisite skill, and betokens in the author rare delicacy and nobility of sentiment, as well as deep knowledge of the human heart.—The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882).