Elisabeth M. Bardwell
Mount Holyoke College
"One who never turned her back but
marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted,
wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake."
Walton B. Whitney, Printer
The substance of the following paper by Mrs.
Sarah D. Locke Stow was read at the annual meeting
of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association, June
With revision and additions it is published by
vote of the association.
We hear of self-made men, - and there is truth in the phrase. There is truth also in the saying, - "The training of a child should begin fifty years before his birth." But sometimes the foundations of character can be traced back many times fifty years.
Elisabeth Miller Bardwell was born Dec. 4, 1831, in Colrain, a hill-town in Franklin County, Mass, settled by men whose ancestors, of pure Scotch blood, brave, honest, God-fearing men, and intensely Protestant, migrated first to the north of Ireland, and afterward from Colrain, Londonderry and vicinity to New England.
Her parents were Amos and Minerva (Miller) Bardwell. On her mother's side, through the Millers, Boltons, McGees, and Stewarts, she was in the fifth generation from James Stewart of Scotland, who is mentioned as a youth in the history of the siege of Londonderry in 1688. From her mother's grandmother Margaret, daughter of Michael and Jane (Henry) McClellan, Miss Bardwell had a mingling of noble Irish blood. Allt hese names, like the Bardwell's are prominent in the history of Colrain, and of the Indian and Revolutionary wars. In the latter, the grandfather of Miss Bardwell's mother, Captain John Bolton, chief engineer in the construction department at West Point, was instrumental in putting the heavy chain across the Hudson at that place to keep the British vessels from passing up the river. In the financial straits of 1779, when his company, unpaid for a long time and but poorly clothed and fed, were almost ready to mutiny, he sold his valuable property in Colrain and used the proceeds for his men, whose poverty he shared through the war, and with them "worked his way home" at its close.
As her grandfather, Sergeant Elias Bardwell, was also a revolutionary soldier, Miss Bardwell was on both sides a lineal Daughter of the Revolution.
Her grandfather Bardwell settled in Colrain in 1781, and early became active in town affairs. Her father likewise was frequently elected to office and like her uncle, Hugh Bolton Miller, represented the town in the state legislature, her father serving a second term.
Of the Bardwell family ancient records are still found in the library of Cambridge University. The manor of Berdewell, Suffolk County, was conveyed to Ralph de Berdewell by order of William the Conqueror, which shows that the family and the parish, or town, existed before the Norman invasion, 1066. That town still bears the family name. The derivation of the name - Berde being an obsolete spelling for Beard - indicates the family to be of Saxon origin. It means well-bearded, or according to others well-barred, or secure. About 400 years ago the name took its present form. At Bardwell, England, stands a well preserved church which was built in the thirteenth century. It was rebuilt two centuries later, (1421), by Sir William Berdewell, known as "The great Warrior." He was standard bearer to Henry V. and Henry VI. in the French wars. He died in 1434 and was buried in the crypt of this church. His portrait in one of its stained glass windows is noted as the most ancient in England. The seat of the family was removed in 1725 to Bolton Hall, Wilberfoss, York, its present location. The family coat of arms bears a shell-fish in symbol of the name, and the motto Nec Aspera terrent. Was Miss Bardwell ever known to be afraid of hardships?
The first of the family in this country was Robert Bardwell who came from London to Boston in 1670. In King Philip's war he was a trusted dispatch bearer to troops in the Connecticut valley, and afterward made Hatfield his home. His descendants have borne their part in each succeeding war of our country. Out of thirty-four of suitable age at the time of the Revolution, twenty-eight saw active service.
Robert's wife was a granddaughter of Lieutenant Samuel Smith, one of Hadley's foremost citizens and the ancestor of the founders of Smith College. He came from England in 1634 and removed from Wethersfield, Conn., to Hadley about 1656. Miss Bardwell was in the fifth generation from Robert the immigrant and through Robert's wife, in the seventh from Lieutenant Smanuel Smith. It may be noted here that Mary Lyon was in the sixth generation of lineal descent from the same Samuel Smith.
The Bardwells have sent pioneers from the Connecticut valley to all parts of the West and South, and are now found in every state in the Union, and are known as well-informed, upright, public spirited and patriotic citizens. They are among the alumni of all our leading educational institutions. The ministry, law, medicine, engineering and teaching are their chosen professions. As a family they are characterized by a striking unobtrusiveness, avoiding notoriety and unmerited prominence. They are not noted for wealth, neither is their name connected with crime, nor pauperism. (For these facts and many more of interest concerning Miss Bardwell's ancestors, acknowledgment is due to Mr. Arthur F. Bardwell of Springfield, Mr. Charles B. McClellan of Troy, N.Y., and other relatives.)
Of this typical New England family Miss Bardwell was a worthy representative. She was the third of seven children early trained in obedience and self-control: not however by frequent use of the rod; "I was punished once," says the oldest daughter; "I remember nothing about the chastisement, but never forgot how father talked to me." They were always a church-going family, though five miles from church. Their early home was on an eminence looking, to the north, upon the beautiful Leyden hills three or four miles away, while to the south-east the view stretches beyond Sugar Loaf and Mount Tobey, and at the south almost to Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom.
Elizabeth was an active, wide awake child, loving out-of-door activities; always fond of horses, quick in emergencies and self-controlled, she became a fearless and skillful rider adn a successful driver of horses not easily manage by others. Timidity was not a trait of hers. "I doubt," says her sister, "if she ever knew the sensation of fear." It was her delight to take her books to the fields for study, but from childhood nature was her teacher. Her father had not great means nor firm health. When she was fifteen he sold his share in the old farmstead and had $500 and a yoke of oxen with which he began life anew on another farm in Colrain. But he wanted his children educated and helped them as he could. In the winter of 1848-9 Elisabeth and an older sister went to Chicopee and worked in a cotton factory; but it was not work to their minds and they returned home.
Elisabeth was a good scholar. At twelve she had finished "Adams' New Arithmetic," evincing the family fondness for mathematics. After her district schooling she had oen term in a select school in Colrain taught by Misses Martha and Hannah Smith; and by boarding herself, she had four or five terms in the Academy at Shelburne Falls. Albion Byron Clark was principal; his assistants were Rev. Mr. Walch and Samuel Fiske, known later as "Dunn Brown." There she began Latin in the fall of 1851 or 1852. At the close of the Academy term May 10, 1853, a public exhibition was given in one of the village churches. Miss Bardwell was one of ten writers selected to read for a prize, and was "put first on the program to give a good start," a schoolmate writes. She did not get the prize but was one of the two who received "honorable mention." It was an item of special interest to all who took an active part that day, that in the audience there was a delegtaion of teachers and students from Mount Holyoke Seminary who were on an excursion to Mary Lyon's birth-place. At a similar exhibition the next autumn Miss Bardwell's skill at the spinning wheel was creditably tested upon the stage where she impersonated "aunt Hannah."
Her early teaching was in district schools in Colrain, Shelburne, Leyden and Buckland, beginning in Colrain May 1, 1850. Successful from the first her services were in steady demand till she left the public school for further study. To the valuable experience of the school room was added that of "boarding round," with its lessons in human nature, a study in which she became well skilled. She kept a record of all her schools and the names of all her pupils. One of them describes her as "a thorough teacher, and a strict disciplinarian, havng a large vein of humor, and uniting gentleness with strength of character."
She was led to think of a course at Mount Holyoke by an intimate friend who graduated there in 1856; fitted for entrance under the thorough, private instruction of Pliny Fiske, nephew of the missionary of that name; entered in advance in 1864 ['4' crossed out and replaced with a '2' in blue ink], and graduated in 1866. Called back at once as a teacher she nearly completed thirty-three years in that position, making her residence in the institution 35 years, - more than half her life. Like her father and mother who were teachers before her, she loved to teach. Wedded to this work, all other offers were declined. More lucrative positions were open to her but she would not go farther from her parents in their declining years.
For the first twenty years she taught at different times algebra, trigonometry, physics and astronomy, but after 1886 astronomy only. In 1873-4 she took graduate work in mathematics at Dartmouth College with Professor Quimby. She improved vacation opportunities for attending Teachers' Institutes and Educational Conventions and for travel in distant parts of this country and in Europe. One who often journeyed with her speaks of her as "an excellent travelling companion, unselfish, thoughtful for others and always ready to adapt herself to circumstances."
One of her purchases in Europe was a number of fine reliefs in plaster representing Raphael's cartoons, which are among the most renowned of the master's works. Some months before her last illness Miss Bardwell gave these reliefs to the department of History of Art.
In the interest of her department she visited the Washington, Princeton, Lick, Berlin, and Potsdam observatories. With intense interest she watched in 1880 the building under the direction of Professor Charles A. Young of the John Payson Williston Observatory, welcoming with joy every new appliance in its fine equipment. For the rest of her life she was its able and happy director, delighting in her delicate instruments almost as in personal friends, imparting the same feeling ot the assistants who were allowed to handle them. Her enthusiasm was contagious also in telling the story of the equatorial whose object glass was made to fill a German order; after its completion word came of a change of plan which would require a smaller glass, and this piece of exact work, one of the most perfect specimens of the art of the elder Alvan Clark, was thrown upon the market just as Mount Holyoke was ready for it. Opportunities for observation were not confined to the classes in astronomy, nor to times of eclipse, occultation or transit. Miss Bardwell often turned the telescope on planet or star, nebulae or sunspots, and invited all who wished to come and look. The numbers that responded showed how these advantages with Miss Bardwell's explanations and patient answers to numberless and repeated questions were appreciated. With like thoughtfulness she bore in mind her friends who - for instance - loved to find Mercury with the naked eye, and reminded them at the favorable time.
In November, 1891 she was elected a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific; in March 1895, of the British Astronomical Association, and in 1898, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was a contributor to the "Astronomy", "Astro-Physics", and the "Popular Astronomy."
Though devoted to her own department she was interested in every thing pertaining to the prosperity of her Alma Mater and her birthright principle of progress, and accordingly joined heartily with those who labored, by advancing the seminary to the college standard, to bring out into actual reality the high ideal on which the seminary was founded.
Miss Bardwell was a genuine teacher. A deep, clear and honest thinker herself, with rare tact and no waste of words she led her students to clear and independent thinking, and commanded their increasing respect. Her calm enthusiasm, and reverent spirit inspired them with high ideals and ennobling aims. One says, "She was the most stimulating teacher I ever had." Said another, passing out of the observatory, "Girls! there's something different about that classroom!" A classmate who heard the remark, adds, "We all knew what she meant. We forgot ourselves in the presence of truth, set forth by one who had learned at the fountain of truth."
A student might fail to reach Miss Bardwell's high standard but she knew that her earnest effort had generous recognition and due credit. Miss Maria Mitchell on forming her acquaintance said, "Miss Bardwell is a woman of whom any college may be proud."
The following from a letter written at South Hadley, Dec. 9, 1891, to her sister, is of interest both from its contents and as illustrating the simplicity and directness of her way of speaking. The observance of her birthday, referred to, was quite impromptu.
"Thank you for yours of Dec. 4. I begin to realize that I am on the down hill side, and I try to care for my health, and to be out of doors, more or less, each day.
Last Sunday we had a despatch from Boston that Miss Blanchard was dead, and about four o'clock Misses Clapp and Hooker and myself left for Boston. At nine Monday morning we left that city with Miss Evans of Painesville, Ohio, Miss Green who had been with Miss Blanchard in Boston, and other friends who were there, and accompanying the body reached Meredith, N.H., a little after noon. We then had a stage ride of fourteen miles over the hard, frozen ground and arrived in Center Sandwich about five. We were taken to the home of Miss Blanchard's brother. The body was taken to Miss Blanchard's house, which is closed only when she has been there in summer. It was built by her father and has always been her home. It is old fashioned and filled with old things. It has the inside shutters to the windows. She delighted in old things. She lay in the parlor surrounded by her own things. It was the most precious spot on earth to her. The funeral was on Tuesday afternoon. The services were simple and very fitting to the occasion. The company folled the body to the cemetery on foot, and she rests in the churh yard back of the church, surrounded by the eternal hills, those beautiful 'White Hills.' As oen stands in Miss Blanchard's front door, in front and to the right is the Ossipee range while a little to the left is beautiful Chocorua. That is the region where Whittier laid the scene he describes in 'Among the Hills.' It is a wonderfully beautiful region of country. I do not wonder that Miss Blanchard spent her summers there. We left Center Sandwich at 9.30 Wednesday morning. We could not come through in a day without starting very early, so we decided not to attempt it, but to come part way and stop over night somewhere. I spent the night in Manchester at Mr. Mack's. We all arrived here on Thursday.
Friday was Dec. 4, and when I went to the supper table I found some beautiful roses by my plate from the girls at my table, and they had planned a little entertainment at the table by bringing quotations and then guessing the authors, by which to celebrate my birthday. Several of the teachrs dropped in during the day to offer their congratulations, and one of the girls gave me a pretty after-dinner-coffee cup and saucer. About 7.30 in the evening I was sent for to go to the parlor, and judge of my surprise if you can, when I found it brilliantly lighted and the teachers assembled to greet me and give me a surprise. There were flowers on two tables, and on one square table were sixty wax candles burning. They were of various colors, white, red, yellow, blue, etc. There were twenty apples for candle sticks and three candles standing in each apple, and the apples arranged in the form of a star. We had cake and ice-cream and after an hour of social intercourse the company dispersed. On reaching my room I found another cup and saucer of exquisite blue and white china, three dozen crysanthemum blossoms and four books. The flowers and books were 'From the Faculty.' A young lady who was here last year sent me a pin; another former student sent me a book. Miss M- gave me a little brush for dusting clothes, made of rope ravelled out, and several birthday letters came; and on that day I had a letter from California stating that I had been elected a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Do you think I needed anything more to remind me that I am sixty years old? But 'a thought' sent after me is very precious. I think only once before in the history of this institution has the sixtieth birthday of a teacher been celebrated here, and that was Miss Shattuck's.
Now I have given you all the time I can spare tonight."
For the last twelve years Miss Bardwell's home residence has been in Greenfield, where she and an unmarried sister had a house and home of their own. The death of this sister in 1895 was a keen and lasting grief to her. Since then she has been much in the family of another sister in the same place.
She had many years of fine health, never having occasion to consult a physician till after she was thirty. Seven yars ago she had a severe illness from which she never fully recovered. The family friends with whom she spent last Easter vacation speak of noticing then for the first time her less elastic step, and form slightly bent. In retrospect they see that her spirit was ripening for heaven. Without doubt she was aware that disease was preying upon her life, but her only complaint was the loss of strength and failure to regain it. From the beginning of the term she avoided unnecessary exertion, - sometimes was absent from table, soemtimes had her classes meet in her room in Pearsons Hall. On April 27 she wrote:- "I have decided it is best that I do not teach much longer, not longer than till May 1, 1900, which will be the fiftieth anniversary of the day I began teaching in the little brick school house under the hill."
In view of lessening strength she arranged to leave her beautiful room on the third floor - commanding views of the Connecticut valley and of the hills she loved so well - for a room next year on the first floor. A little later she said at table one morning, "It is forty-nine years today since I began teaching." At once the response came, "We must have a grand celebration when the day comes round next year!" and definite plans were proposed and eagerly discussed.
On Saturday of the same week, just three weeks before her death, business errands took her to Springfield. She went all the way by open cars, enjoying the fresh beauty of the season. Though weary that evening, she had her corridor meeting as usual, and the next morning, her last Sabbath at the college, she was at her place in the faculty prayer meeting and her voice was the first to be heard in prayer; but she did not try to attend church that day. While others were there she spread her blanket under a tree where she could look at the hills. On Monday she was not as well and proposed to visit Dr. Dole in Greenfield but relinquished the plan and returned to her couch. Tuesday Dr. Dole was summoned to her, and went again on Thursday. By her advice, on Friday Miss Bardwell was taken to the Franklin County Hospital in Greenfield; glad to have the benefit of special nursing, - it was fitting that one who had often cared so tenderly with loving skill for others should have the best of professional nursing, - glad to be near the doctor whose repeated treatment in the past had successfully retarded the progress of her disease. For a few days no special change was reported; but realizing her serious condition, with characteristic faithfulness in attention to details, she sent for the necessary documents that her class reports might be made out under her direction.
She had been in the hospital two weeks when on Saturday morning, May 27, her sister in Greenfield was told of her rapidly failing strength and went at once to her bedside. "It is hard work to breathe," said Miss Bardwell, with difficulty. "Shall I fan you?" asked the sister. "If you have a fan - there is none here," was the reply, - "just - a - little" - and with these words the sufferer ceased to breathe. So suddenly and so unexpectedly did she escape the lingering suffering feared for her.
On Tuesday - Memorial day - a party of thirty or more from the college joined relatives and friends gathered in Greenfield in Miss Bardwell's home church, made beautiful and fragrant with ferns and flowers. Services were conducted by Rev. Arthur B. Patten, pastor of the church in South Hadley of which Miss Bardwell was a member, and by Rev. G. Glenn Atkins, her Greenfield pastor. Their well chosen words of Scripture, prayer and tribute, alternated with the selections, "I will lift up mine eyes", "Abide with me", "Thy sun shall no more go down", softly rendered by the college quartet. The hymn "Abide with me" was the one chosen by Miss Bardwell in that last corridor meeting, May 6. In her first corridor meeting of last September she used these promises: - "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee"; "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." Both passages were made the subject of remark by the officiating clergymen.
In the Colrain burial place of her fathers where the Grand Army veterans had just left their flags and flowers, and hard by "the little brick school house under the hill" where Miss Bardwell taught her first school, her body was laid to rest. Appropriate as had been the brief service in the college chapel and the public on in the Greenfield church, no less so was the homage rendered by the family group around the open grave. Tender and touching were the loving memories spoken, the Scripture selections, and the lifting up of hearts in prayer, led by one of the family circle.
Miss Bardwell's attachments were strong. Once a friend she was always a friend, staunch and true. This strong trait enabled her to keep hold of former pupils, with whom her correspondence was large. She followed all Holyoke alumnae with keen interest and always remembered them in her public prayers. She was a woman of high integrity and honor; of deliberate purposes and steady perseverance; of emotions deep and still, yet responsive; of few but well chosen words; in manner quiet and sedate. To students, faculty and alumnae her name is a synonym for strength of character. Her experience, calm deliberation and good judgment made her a valued counsellor. In cases of critical illness, or death, of accident or emergency, students, teachers, and physicians often, turned to her, and found a gentle but efficient helper, a wise advisor. Those who knew her best found also a wealth of tenderness, and realized more than others, her keen sense of humor, her strong love for music, poetry and art. All knew her love for nature. It was a joy to her to go into the woods and fill her hands with flowers. When some one asked what Miss Bardwell's favorite flowers were, her reply was, "Forget-me-nots, violets, pansies, the little fringed polygalas - oh, everything!"
Miss Bowers, her first section teacher, writes of her as follows: -
"Memory goes back gratefully to the days of Miss Bardwell's first year as a Mount Holyoke student. She had already a local reputation as a successful teacher; she was older and wiser than the young teacher who was brought into closest relations with her and who dreaded her coming. But she who knew so well how to command, knew how to obey, and her unfailing deference and courtesy as a pupil, with her loving watchful care as a friend, will never be forgotten. She ws always reasonable and sympathetic and never assumed anything on the ground of her own experience; but the one who was just beginning her life work learned much from her and owes her a deep and lasting debt.
Reasonable, steadfast, of calm judgment, inspiring confidence, true-hearted, - these are the words that come to mind most readily with the thought of her as a friend and fellow-worker."
In "The Mount Holyoke" for June we find these words of another associate, Miss C. F. Stevens: -
"The fortitude, the heroism of Miss Bardwell's life not only in the last year of suffering but in the deep sorrows of preceding years justify the feeling that the day of her funeral was most fittingly Memorial day. The noble service of a quiet life like Miss Bardwell's is as worthy of honor as any service rendered on the field of battle. Miss Bardwell was a woman of firm convictions reached after deep and honest thinking, of earnest purpose, of perfect fidelity and sincerity. 'In quietness and in confidence was her strength.' The nature that was so strong and true was tender as well. No one appreciated more keenly every little thoughtfulness, no one gave more generously love and sympathy. Miss Bardwell had a keen sense of humor. Not many, probably ever heard her read Tennyson's 'A Spinster's Sweet-'arts', but one who did hear it says it was worth going far to hear and see. Many have seen the twinkle in her eye as she told or listened to a joke.
Though Miss Bardwell was reserved and did not perhaps find it easy to speak of the subjects nearest her heart, her life spoke for her, and all who knew her were conscious that her thoughts were much with the unseen. Those who were every in her 'recess' meeting, or Sunday evening meeting, those who used to hear her prayers in the old dining hall, and those of the last years for whom she has conducted the weekly prayer meeting, the Y. W. C. A. Sunday service, or an occasional chapel exercise, remember the impressiveness of her talks and prayers. Every word was impressive because she had lived it, every petition went to God because it came from her heart. Whether she turned the thoughts of her hearers to the heavens and their revelation of God's glory, or to the written word with its declaration of God's love, whether she read the passages which emphasize the sinfulness of sin, or those which describe the life in heaven, or gave a practical talk on the observance of the Sabbath, or the necessity of faithfulness in little things, - those who listened felt her perfect sincerity, her genuine nobility, knew she never presented an ideal she had not made her own. But more than that, their hearts bowed reverently in the presence of the God Miss Bardwell desired to magnify, in the presence of the Savior she longed to glorify."
On the Sabbath after her burial the college Y. W. C. A. service was a memorial service, the subject announced being, "An 'epistle of Christ . . . . written . . . . in tables of the heart.'" Among the tributes given are the following: -
"When we went to her room for corridor meeting we always found her before her desk with the open Bible. She read slowly and gave us in low, distinctive tones the interpretation that God had given her."
In a general corridor meeting this year, Miss Bardwell gave a personal experience, having in mind the fact that young people, though believing in God and his power, sometimes doubt the power of prayer, or ask 'what is the use of praying?' There was a time when she had this doubt. The answer came in the last illness of Fidelia Fisk whose suffering was very great. One day a friend and former pastor called, and at Miss Fisk's request prayed with her. He asked if it were God's will the sufferer might be restored to health and to her work; but if that could not be, that she might be spared further suffering. When the prayer closed, Miss Fisk had entered into rest. Miss Bardwell alone, kneeling by her side, had seen the change. To her it came as a direct answer to prayer and so deeply was she impressed that her doubt never returned."
"I first knew Miss Bardwell through the prayers offered for her recovery from a long and dangerous illness. I told her so not long ago, and she replied, 'I have often thought I was prayed back to life.' She was herself a woman of prayer, and all who are or have been 'members of our Mount Holyoke family' must be drawn together by the loving bond of her never-to-be-forgotten prayers. A troubled girl once said, 'I wish Miss Bardwell would pray! She has such faith.'"
"When I first met Miss Bardwell I stood in awe of her, but soon finding her sympathy and tenderness, learned to go to her in trouble."
"'I will lift up mine eyes to the hills' are the words that we associate with Miss Bardwell. Born among the mountains, loving them so much that she would often come to our room - that year after the fire - simply to see them, and rooming the last two years where she could look out on the full sweep of the mountain range, she seemed to draw to herself 'the strength of the hills' with their calm repose."
Tributes were read from letters received. From Mrs. Gulliver: - "I rested in her, she was so strong." From Miss Ward: - "How safe I felt about everything I had committed to her care! How true she was to every interest and to every friend!" From Professor Young: -
"I am very glad to have the privilege of joining in your Memorial service of next Sunday, and expressing my deep sympathy with you in the sorrow caused by the death of Miss Bardwell. To me it comes as a personal grief, not wholly unexpected indeed, but none the less saddening. When I first became connected with the seminary as a lecturer she was one of the younger teachers, and as her work lay mainly along the lines in which I was specially interested I naturally became better acquainted with her than with most of her fellow teachers, - especially after 1880 when the new observatory was built and placed in her charge.
I need not say that I came to have a very high regard for her. while perhaps she was not particularly rapid in her mental processes she was very sound and clear in her understanding and had an excellent ability to communicate her knowledge to others; she was therefore an admirable teacher, inspiring, diligent, conscientious and 'faithful unto death'. Her place will not easily be filled.
Of her personal and religious character, others, more intimately acquainted with her can speak far better than I. I recognized her as an earnest Christian, a sincere, self-denying follower of our Lord, uncompromising in all matters of duty and principle as she saw the right, zealous for the spiritual interests of her pupils and all with whom she was associated, and faithful in every good word and work as she had opportunity. We did not often speak to each other of such things, - she seemed to me to be naturally rather reticent, - but now and then we did, and I remember how more than once in the observatory dome when we were looking at some one of the planets, we would refer to our present limitations; - how here we can only 'see through a glass darkly, but there face to face.' I think that rather than most, as often happens with those to whom life for various reasons is a little hard and difficult and overshadowed with sorrows, she was 'heavenly minded,' looking forward with something like eager anticipation to the heavenly rest, and the abiding city and the open vision.
And now the end has come. She has passed behind the veil and entered into her rest. Let us hope that each of us, as one by one we close our earthly course, may be able to look back upon a life of equally faithful service and find the same abundant entrance into the world of light."
The Alumnae Association voted that with the foregoing paper extracts from notes of Miss Bardwell's talks should be included.
The following selections were copied from Miss Bardwell's own notes, used in preparation, not in speaking. To those who heard the talks these outlines will recall with more or less vividness the impressions received from the discourses in full. For others cold print can never reproduce the impressive effect due in part to the circumstances in which the thoughts were spoken, in part to the force of allusions to college life and work appreciated only by those who were in that life and work, - due most of all to the personality of the speaker.
Come and see the works of God. Ps. 66:5
Talk ye of all his wondrous works. Ps. 105:2
In these days when the hillsides and the valley are bright with the beauty of the autumn foliage, we do speak often of His wondrous works. We enjoy and feast upon the beauty of the landscape everywhere about us. Some of us enjoy the singing of the robins, sparrows, and other birds even more than at their first coming in the springtime. Some are enjoying tracing the beauty of law and order found in the structure of the grasshopper - God's finger-prints! Some of us are finding order and fixedness of proportions in the atomic world - marks of the divine! Others find that masses of matter are obedient to law - the touch of the unseen! Others are looking upward attempting to comprehend the elaborate systems of the stars that adorn the sky, infinite in number, in infinite space. Others are tracing the leading of God in the lives of nations and of individuals - mysterious, wonderful influence!
Yes, we are drinking in the beauty of color, of sound, of animal and plant structure, of the inorganic world, of those "other worlds than ours", of the governing power that directs responsible beings and never makes a mistake.
Do you see the painter of the leaves and flowers? Do we see God in his finger-prints? Do we feel the touch of the unseen? We can say with the Psalmist, "Thou has made me glad through thy works", but do these things make our souls turn God-ward in adoration, Christ-like in penitence, and fellowman-ward in love and sympathy?
These things to which we are turning our attention are wonderful helps in the growth and development of the human soul; but that which is most potent in the development of the heart life, so that Christ may be reflected in it, is the influence of God's word and the influence of one's associates. Then "what manner of persons ought we to be?"
In these things we walk by sight. Let us use them as helps to the life of faith. The beauty we should see most of God in, - the beauty he most delights in, and for the perfecting of which he has given us so many helps, - is the beauty of a human soul whose life is hid with Christ in God.
Likeness to Christ is the object of all Christian effort, - to have our characters so purified from evil, the good in us so fully developed that we shall be actuated by the same principles that Christ manifested. Then others will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. Then we shall be efficient in our work and have comfort in our lives.
Likeness to Christ means holiness, freedom from sin, wisdom - the best use of the best means, the right word in the right place. We look at Christ's characteristics and then at ourselves and are disheartened and say, "We will do the best we can and let it go at that." But the thought should be fixed on Christ not on ourselves, upon him as a person rather than an example. What we are to look at is not actions but the life that is behind the actions and the principle that controls them. Study actions not for themselves but for what they indicate.
There is a strange power in personality to affect other natures. One grows to be like one whom he watches.
The next fragment may be a part of the talk that follows it. The precepts of both had abundant occasion to be practiced by all who were connected with the college that year, in consequence of the fire that consumed their college home, Sept. 27, 1896.
When the way is dark, use judgment and trust. Perplexities teach us we must trust. Does God call? If he does, he will furnish ability, - then trust him for that. If we want to do a great work that he sees we are not fit for, let us ask him to keep us from it.
Great perplexities are few; small ones are constantly upon us, which should lead us to trust and seek guidance. We should have a habit of trusting for guidance.
Attachment to our Master should make us quickly respond to his leading.
And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net. Luke 5:5.
Peter might have hesitated or refused to obey on the ground that Jesus was not a fisherman. Or he might have said, "I'll do it, but I know no fish will be taken." Instead of either of these courses he performed the act of faith and showed the childlike trustfulness of obedience.
We should be in the same attitude of mind and heart toward our Master as Peter. Peter heard him speak - he speaks to us through conscience and the Word. That the ear of the soul may be attent to hear, and the eye of the soul quick to see right or wrong, we need frequent reading of the Word, frequent communing in prayer.
However dark and seemingly impossible to follow, the way may be that God calls us to walk in, the end will surely be accomplished if we obey his word.
This year will be one of strong temptations. You must gain strength to meet them by reading the Bible and by prayer.
We have recently considered some things that we know that make us strong for life's work. Now let us see how some things that we do not know may be equally helpful in our Christian life and growth.
It is the hidden things that we are searching for every day, in whatever line we are studying; and in every effort after truth, in art, in literature, in history, in science, there is an uplift of the intellect and we grow toward the perfected soul. We regard this as our college work; but there is another part of our work, which ought to be the larger, certainly is the better, part of it, - the search after spiritual truth.
Some feel that "God is great and we know him not', and ask as Zophar did of Job, "Canst thou by searching find out God?" "Great things doeth he which we cannot comprehend." True, but that should not deter us from reaching out after him, or seeking to understand his word. . . . . . . That we cannot "find out the Almighty to perfection", that there are hidden things in God,s [sic] word, should not lead us to put God and his word out of our thoughts, but should stimulate us to careful study, just as in our daily college work. The vital truths are clearly revealed. That only parts of his ways are known to us, a little portion of him is heard, the thunder of his power is not understood, - these facts are evidences of God's love and should strengthen our faith in him.
In regard to God's word, we should always be in the place of the learner, just as we are in regard to his works in our scientific researches; and God will reveal himself as fast and as far as we can comprehend and the soul will be at peace and there will be a steady growth in Christian life.
Though we "see through a glass darkly", the light is beyond and we can find it gradually, but not without effort, not without study.
My young friends, let the study of the Bible be a part of your daily work.
To will is present with us, but to perform that which is good we find not. When we would do good, evil is present with us. We find a law in our nature which often hinders doing right.
What are we to do? We are to keep the conscience tender and the thoughts pure by looking upon all sin as exceedingly sinful; to keep the Holy Spirit's power by putting our wills over on the Spirit's side. Temptations will come, but temptations are not sins, temptations do not grieve the Spirit. The Spirit is grieved by the assent of the will to sin. By it his energy is resisted, his purifying work prevented - the Spirit will not force obedience.
At the time of conversion usually the conscience is tender, there is fear lest sin should be indulged in. But, sad to say, a Christian may by degrees grow so callous that that which once startled does not in the least alarm. A cloak may be thrown over sins, or they may be called by dainty names.
"O wretched man that I am" - this fearful struggle between good and evil - "who shall deliver me!" Paul was in distress, conscious of weakness and of need of aid. There was an earnest desire for deliverance. Then follows, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" - he had found help. We are helped in our efforts not without them. Paul's advice is, - and it is safe to follow, - "Yield yourselves unto God, your members as instruments of righteousness unto God, and sin shall not have dominion over you." "Covet earnestly the best gifts." Covet all the fruits of the spirit. "Continue in the faith grounded and settled."