BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF EMILY MALBONE MORGAN
By EMILY SOPHIE BROWN
I AWOKE to a lovely morning!" So runs the opening sentence on many pages in the diary of twelve-year-old Emily Malbone Morgan, who in 1875 was touring through Italy with Father, Mother, and Billy. The spelling in the following quotations from this diary is Emily's own.
The "lovely morning" was not only one of blue skies, of "Buffalows driven by peasants," of mountain-climbing and of galleries. It signified an attitude of mind in the observer. Colors were always more vivid when Emily Morgan was there to enjoy them. Uninteresting people were vitalized. Difficult situations became humorous and universally human.
On another page we find this passage: "We entered and stood in the center of the Coliseum. In the center where so many martyrs had laid down their life for the Crucified." No more words on that day, and the page is blotted.
January 10, 1874, she wrote of a visit to a "monastury" in Cava (near Salerno).
The priest then took us into the old Monastury there were old tombs. He then lighted a lamp and took us down celler pretty rich celler rich with Frescoes and skulls of the many saints that had died there. One of the rooms was actually piled with skulls and other bones, the presents of which will haunt me long afterwards. Then we went through a narrow passage to ware the children's bones were in one great heap in a tomb. I am thankful that I am not one of those children. He then showed us the tombs ware the monks were laid after they were dead, until they was nothing left but bones, then they were taken up, clansed and piled on top of each other. A pleasant prospect for the monks of the monastury now. After that I had escaped from that celler of skules, being frited by Mama's declaring that she wanted to take one of the bones with her. I enjoyed the fresh air emmensely.
Emily Malbone Morgan was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on December 10, 1862, in a typically Victorian house at 108 Farmington Avenue, formerly the home of the parents of J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. She was the daughter of Henry Kirke Morgan, a Hartford merchant for whom Morgan Street in Hartford is named. Her mother was Emily Malbone Brinley. On both sides of her family, her ancestors were New Englanders who came from the British Isles in the seventeenth century.
If a professor of eugenics were planning a marriage, he might not have united Emily's father and mother. Henry Kirke Morgan came of a family to whom practical and material considerations were of paramount value. To the forebears of Emily Malbone Brinley, Emily's mother, matters of literary and cultural value seemed all-important. Henry Kirke Morgan was virile, quick-tempered, and brusque. Emily Malbone Brinley was devout, was regular in church attendance and spiritual practices, and had a gracious otherworldliness about her daily living.
Yet these parents came from the same social stratum--"good families"--and were both vigorous and full of interest in the affairs of the world. Out of the differences in their natures came the depth of character and the variations of talent found in their children. It is probable that because of the friction between their natures, each sharpened the contrasting traits in the other. Perhaps because Mrs. Morgan was fond of church services and her prayers, Mr. Morgan took special delight in using strong language. Not too secretly, Mrs. Morgan, like Clarence Day's mother depicted in Life with Father, hoped to change the nature of her husband, while he daily became more explosive in his manner of speech and more human in his manner of living.
Mrs. Morgan's sentences were Johnsonian in length j her inflection covered a long range of tones, with accent and diction like that of a Britisher; Mr. Morgan spoke in brief, pungent phrases, spicy, pertinent, and direct. Mrs. Morgan's conversation flowed with the persuasive undercurrents of a brook in the spring} Mr. Morgan talked like an intermittent geyser.
Henry Kirke Morgan was a keen businessman recognized both because of his heritage and through personal standing in the community as a man of integrity and acumen.
Mrs. Morgan's mother, Catharine Putnam, was the granddaughter of Israel Putnam and the daughter of Major Israel
Putnam's son and aide, Colonel Daniel Putnam. Catharine Putnam married George Brinley of Boston in the living-room of Putnam Elms in Brooklyn, Connecticut, a home started by Nathaniel Brinley, a relative of George Brinley, in 1782 and completed by Colonel Daniel Putnam in 1784. In that same living-room, now used as a dining-room in Putnam Elms, is a picture of the magnificent Datchet House, built in Roxbury, Massachusetts, by Mrs. Morgan's ancestor, Colonel Francis Brinley.
Emily was the fifth and youngest child in her family and the only daughter. Her oldest brother, the Rev. Dr. George Brinley Morgan, D.D., was born on January 9, 1848. He became a prominent clergyman in the Protestant Episcopal Church. Cheshire Academy prepared him for Trinity College, from which he was graduated in 18705 and it was this college which later conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He prepared for the priesthood at Nashotah, Wisconsin. On his graduation from the seminary he was called to Goffstown, New Hampshire, which parish he served for several years. Then followed nine full years at Christ Church, Exeter, New Hampshire. He became rector of Christ Church, New Haven, in 1887.
The fact that Dr. Brinley Morgan held only three rectorships in his life of sixty years testifies to his devotion to his parishioners and theirs to him. Outside of the east end of Christ Church, New Haven, which he built and of which he was rector for more than twenty years, stands a monument to his memory. Near this spot he was tragically killed by an automobile on November 15, 1908. His death left its scar upon the mind and heart of his sister, although her courage was not lessened but rather strengthened by any loss which came to her.
William Denison Morgan, M.D., known always to Emily by the affectionate name of "Billy," was born on November 20, 1850. He was perhaps the closest to Emily of any of her brothers. This may have been because Emily and Billy outlived the other members of the family, or because Billy did not marry until his later years, so that he was unencumbered by family cares for many years and more at liberty to enjoy the comradeship of his sister. There was always a delightful striking of the sparks of kindred wit and friendly difference of opinion when this brother and sister met.
Dr. William Denison Morgan was a dearly loved figure in Hartford, where he was an insurance health-examiner and the president of the Hartford Hospital Board of Directors for many years. In the entrance hall of the latter institution hangs an excellent portrait of Dr. Morgan, in whose face, despite the fact that he wears a white beard--a distinguishing feature in the twentieth century--one may trace a strong resemblance to his sister Emily. Tolerance, humor, and love of mankind radiated from his countenance.
Henry Kirke Morgan, Jr., born July 9, 1854, was a Wall Street broker, with a home in New Jersey. Like Emily, he was an avid reader, a lover of art, and a delightful talker. In 1895 he married Mrs. Katharine Huntington Brooks, finding in his married life great richness and delight. Mrs. Arthur U. Crosby of Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, is their only living child.
Harry Morgan, as he was familiarly known, had an excellent memory, and like his sister was a gifted teller of stories. One of his most charming tales was that of his meeting with John Ruskin in Venice when Harry was a boy. Ruskin, finding an American lad reading The Stones of Venice in St. Mark's Square, asked Harry Morgan how he liked the book. They exchanged opinions about favorite passages and Venetian experiences. After their brief conversation, Ruskin handed his card to Harry and asked him to call, a request which the boy proudly accepted. In retailing this encounter Harry Morgan would quote pages of The Stones of Venice in his rich voice, bringing into the room the glory that was Venice, the re-creating of beauty that was Ruskin's, and the charm of culture which was the heritage of the Morgan family.
That Harry Morgan's reading did not follow the same lines as that of Emily is shown in one of the stories which Emily often related. Harry, visiting at Emily's home, Putnam Elms, during the rainy days of a late fall, had exhausted most of the books in the large library there. However, as he started for bed and searched for a recent detective story for a nightcap, his eyes lighted upon a new book, Brother John. "How about this new mystery story by Vida D. Scudder?" he inquired. "Is it any good?"
Henry Kirke Morgan, Jr., died July 26, 1931. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford, with his father, his mother, his brothers Dr. William Morgan, the Rev. Dr. George Brinley Morgan, and Edward. There also lies the body of Emily Malbone Morgan.
Edward Brinley Morgan, Emily's youngest brother, was only five years older than Emily. Although he lived but seventeen years, he left a vivid memory of his personality. Something of his love for his sister, his humor, and his maturity of character may be seen in the following letter written to his brother Brinley Morgan on January 18, 1869, when Emily was six and he approaching twelve.
Society has been very dull till lately several large parties and sociables have been given. You must have enjoyed yourself immensely in St. Louis from your description, but as you know the old custom of calling, New Years Day, has been little kept up in Hartford. We occasionally hear from Will who seems all right now and studying very hard. Harry is laying the foundations of his fortune in the Hartford Bank. Uncle Ned [Dr. Edward Brinley of Riverside, Connecticut] has spent much of the season with us and sups with us almost every Sunday night.
Emily is progressing rapidly in all branches and keeps the piano keys in constant motion. I met her wandering down street yesterday. She was trying to change a dollar which she received Christmas into pennies to drop into beggars' hats. I took her to the Historical Rooms [Wadsworth Atheneum] and before going up, I told her to read the notice: "Boys under fourteen not admitted." She was disappointed at first 'til the happy thought struck her that she was not a boy and wished to admit Moscow [her St. Bernard dog] on the same plea.
Your aff. bro.
Edward B. Morgan
Emily's early education was given by her mother, through reading, home tutoring, and travel. She was eight when she took her first trip abroad with her father, mother, and brother Edward. While in Rome she contracted typhoid fever. Through a schoolmate of Emily's we hear of her strange appearance as at the age of nine, with hair clipped short because of her recent illness, she was led by two guardian brothers to the portals of West Middle School on Asylum Street in Hartford, two blocks from her home.
Her education was the best of the time. When Emily was in her teens, Wellesley, Vassar, and Smith were in their beginnings, and it is not surprising that pioneer forms of education did not appeal to conservative parents like Henry Kirke and Emily Malbone Brinley Morgan.
Emily had at her disposal the books of her Uncle George Brinley, who accumulated at his home on Asylum Street in Hartford one of the best libraries of his time. She frequently traveled with her parents and brothers, and was taught from childhood to think, to express herself clearly, and to enjoy beauty in music, art, and literature. Travel throughout her life was the foundation of learning and a means of obtaining greater culture and breadth of mind. She prepared for these trips by extensive reading. Her pleasure was heightened by her own frequent descriptions of what she had seen, in private conversation and in formal talks. While we have no complete record of her travels, we know that she was in England and in Italy in 1871 and in 1892. In 1911, she spent the spring in Bermuda while convalescing from a serious operation. In 1912, with Miss Mann she journeyed to Russia and to Egypt. In 1920, she went to Spain and North Africa with Miss Ellen Jarvis. She enjoyed a winter in California in 1925. In 1927, she attended a Near East Conference. She was in Jerusalem in Holy Week of 1931.
For some years she was a student at Miss Haines's school in Hartford, at which time she began to take delight and pride in writing. Her journals in this period refer to an inner group of friends with whom she shared her attempts to write poems, stories, and essays. In the journals themselves there is an obvious effort to improve her literary style.
These same journals depict her difficulty in understanding the formal religion of her time. Differences in points of view held by her father and her mother found an echo in her mind. She felt that she might become either a hypocrite or an atheist. In this mood she cried out for some resolution for the turmoil in her soul. Such aid she found in reading Walter Besant's All Sorts and Conditions of Men and in her own ability to aid those less fortunate than herself. Struggling within herself as to the direction in which her life might go, after a stay in Boston, where she had time to gain perspective on her own character and family life, she determined to return to Hartford and devote herself to her family. This determination she fulfilled most thoroughly, although her altruistic nature could not be content with the Victorian social life of that day, nor could she succumb to the life of ease and personal comfort to which her birth and heritage called her.
In 1882 she founded with a few others the Thursday Afternoon Club, a literary organization still in existence. Among the bylaws of this club we find wise provisions which bear the mark of Emily Morgan's experienced mind: "No photographs shall be circulated during a talk." "There shall be some general discussion at every meeting."
In 1883 we find her allied with an association known as the United Workers, through whom she found sympathy and interest in work for persons less fortunate than herself.
It was in 1883, also, that an important friendship was strengthened by the renewing of her acquaintanceship with Adelyn Howard of Winsted, Connecticut. Adelyn, a Hartford playmate with whom she had climbed apple trees and shared attic treasures, had fallen victim to a fatal hip disease. She was lonely and desolate in a new town away from relatives and friends. Learning through a common friend, Annie Goodman (now Mrs. John H. Plumb), that Adelyn needed friends, Emily drove from Hartford to Winsted to see Adelyn. The story of their friendship is one which will be told later. Suffice it to say here that because of this bond there was founded in 1884 the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, in order that Adelyn, the shut-in, might be able to offer prayers and thanksgiving for the many people for whom Emily Morgan of Hartford and Harriet Hastings of Wellesley, Massachusetts, were working in a more active way.
VISIONS AND REALITIES
"My greatest desire," Emily Morgan once wrote, "has always been to make tired people rested and happy." Generosity was one] of her outstanding traits, as we saw in the letter written in 18 by her brother Edward. Wherever she traveled, she purchased gifts for friends, relatives, and acquaintances, choosing articles specifically for certain people and so sharing her pleasure in travel with those at home. Her favorite form of giving, however, was! in hospitality. She welcomed people to her own house, she established summer homes, and she found special satisfaction in carrying forward the summer programs of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross.
It is interesting to note that her summer homes, operated by hostesses and guests together, were started in 1889, when the plans for settlements were being formulated by Jane Addams in Chicago and by the College Settlements Association in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Vida D. Scudder, one of the earliest members of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, was instrumental in the founding of this Association.
From 1889 to her death in 1937, Emily Morgan made herself personally responsible for the upkeep and running of summer vacation homes for tired women, girls, and children. Her first venture, Heartsease, at Saybrook, Connecticut, was begun in 1889 and there she cared for various groups of people until 1914. Beulahland in Blandford, Massachusetts, was opened in 1894 and continued for twelve years. In 1906, she purchased the ancestral home, Putnam Elms, Brooklyn, Connecticut, near which in 1922 she erected a second house, Kingswood, for the entertainment of those needing rest and refreshment. This house was open each summer thereafter until her death.
When--in her late teens--Emily Morgan began to organize Girls' Clubs and to plan for summer vacation houses, she found little understanding of her purposes on the part of her immediate family. Although private means were available, the money used for her gifts and undertakings was not skimmed from the surplus of her income, but accumulated by going without luxuries and comforts, and by earning money through personal effort.
She trained herself from childhood to avoid luxurious living.
When she was twelve, she chose to sleep on the marble seat of an Italian hotel as a protest against too much thought about the softness of hotel mattresses. One of the Companions, Miss Nina E. Browne of Boston, writes of her: "Emily had everything in life, but when circumstances denied her what she was accustomed to, she never complained nor indicated that she recognized the situation. At Beulahland, I remember that on one occasion she gave up her bed for someone and slept in the .pantry with her head under the shelf. When she moved into Adelynrood, she chose one of the smallest and least desirable rooms." Money spent for her own clothes and food was expended thriftily.
Her favorite methods of earning her funds for philanthropy were the giving of art talks and the publication of books. The art talks were delivered before the clubs and in the schools of Hartford. They required careful preparation both in writing the material and in securing and selecting illustrative pictures. Emily Morgan gloried in beauty in all forms--literature, music, drama, and sculpture--but painting gave her the greatest pleasure. Trained from childhood to observe and appreciate the great paintings of every land, she increased her own enjoyment through study, sketching, and the giving of many lectures. She was eager that others should know the riches available in beauty. "Things which you appreciate belong to you," she said. She encouraged young artists by word of mouth and by purchase of their productions. An appraiser of her estate, a man who had never known her, exclaimed as he viewed the hundreds of paintings which covered the walls of Putnam Elms, "She must have helped every young artist she ever met!" In 1927, a chance acquaintance whom she met at a pension in Jerusalem greeted her warmly: "I have wanted for years to tell you, Miss Morgan, about an art student in Florence, Italy, who though in straitened circumstances had saved money for thirty years in order to see the paintings which Miss Morgan had described in such glowing words." "Who was it?" asked Emily. "She said you would not know her. She was one of the hundreds of children in the public schools. As we traveled through the galleries she recalled, after many years, the pictures, their location, and their place in the history of art."
The publication of little books was a delight about which Emily Morgan talked with spontaneous glee in her annual reports about her summer homes. From childhood she was interested in writing. Her diaries were kept up until she was more than twenty years old. In her sixteenth year she published travel stories in a Sunday-school paper, Helping Hand, which was printed in Brooklyn, New York. Her booklets include A Little White Shadow (1889), Prior Rahere's Rose (1893), Poppy Garden (1894), A Lady of Olden Time, Madonna of the Smoke, Flight of the Swallow, and Adelyn's Story. All of them were copyrighted.
Her enthusiasm about her vacation houses was infectious, and she readily enlisted support from various organizations that she had been instrumental in founding--the Thursday Afternoon Club, the United Workers, and the Monday Evening Club.
Her leadership was that of a consecrated ego. She worked primarily with other people, for others. She took others in as partners, was grateful for each contribution and suggestion. She marched and fought in the ranks. Yet she was always in command, because her vision was clearer and broader than that of the average person and she had a firm grasp of each situation as a whole.
Because of Emily Morgan's generosity, few people realized that she had a keen business mind, which might have been used for the successful accumulation of wealth had that mind been geared differently. Because her mind and soul were motivated by giving and sharing, her energies were directed toward earning solely that she might spend for others, enlist interest from others able to share, and plan expenditures carefully so that small amounts of money might be spent profitably. The co-operative running of Heartsease at Saybrook and Beulahland in Blandford was an outgrowth of Christian fellowship.
In directing her houses she kept careful accounts and expected housemothers to do the same. She used wise judgment in choice of house furnishings, which must always be colorful, suitable, and pleasing. Although details were always a burden to her mind, she had a definite picture of the many items that contribute to the success of making a home homelike. She could absorb a long list of needs readily, and decide their relative importance in quick time. The same courage which she displayed in meeting pain and sorrow she exhibited in carrying through the uncongenial task of considering small matters. Her imagination, her love of romance, and her devotion fired her energies. She could outline in an hour enough duties and activities to occupy a household for weeks. "I do want to say once and for all," she wrote, "that if I have had any measure of success in my work, it is I believe due to the fact that I, as a woman, possess the power in common with every other woman of creating a fireside for lonely hearts."
The logbooks kept by housemothers at Heartsease show the careful thought which preceded the opening of the houses. Applications for enrollment were made informally through church and secular organizations, clergymen, and club leaders. Exact planning was required for the spacing of vacations so that there might be enough rooms available on given dates and so that sufficient rest might be given those needing help. All of this entailed much correspondence on the part of Miss Morgan and her helpers. Here, as always, her sympathy was used in a practical way, meeting problems with clear-cut thinking.
Extracts from her first report on her vacation home at Saybrook, delivered in the fall of 1889 to the United Workers, show her combination of vision and sage wisdom.
During the summer, thirty-six girls were sent to the summer home in Saybrook, four or five at a time, some staying a week, ten days or a fortnight as their parents or employment allowed. . . .
If the summer home has done little else, we may congratulate ourselves that it has brought both workers in our Society and workers it is our pleasure to work for into a pleasant fellowship. . . .
We have discovered what an immense amount of happiness a comparatively small amount of money can give. The amount of money we started with was one hundred and seventy dollars, receipts from the sale of the first edition of the Little White Shadow, and about thirty dollars is still owing on that first edition. One hundred and nine dollars was paid for board and traveling expenses, twenty dollars for our share of the rent, which will be paid out of the next edition of the book. We shall have sixty-one dollars in the bank toward next summer. . . .
If we could organize a committee not necessarily limited to our society, to be known as the Summer House Committee, this group could ascertain how reasonably and cheaply each room, bedroom, dining-room, kitchen, etc. could be entirely furnished down to the minutest detail.
Miss Morgan's Heartsease notebook for 1892 records committee lists which include representatives of the Thursday Afternoon Club, the United Workers, and the Monday Evening Club, Saybrook men and women, and various guests.
I am not speaking in ignorance of the amount of pretty and useful effects that may be brought about with very little money. Some years ago, I accepted a wager that I could refurnish a bedroom, with the exception of the bed, for fifteen dollars. I won it. I visited the garret and excavated an old-fashioned couch and some wicker chairs grown pale in the sun of many summers, but still standing firm on their legs. I bought some chintz at a bargain and covered the lounge, using velour for the pillow that went with it. I washed the chairs first in salt and water, then painted them black and finished them with black varnish, reseated them with carpets, and then with cushions of velour. I made a toilette table of imitation white scrim over primrose cambric and made a pretty lambrequin of cherry silk for my mantelpiece. I covered the seat to the organ, which I did not mention, as it is not usually regarded as a necessary article of bedroom furniture, with velour. I had money left to buy two small rugs, a chintz covering for my bed, and a piece as a table cover. Having lost apparently all claim to modesty, I may as well state that the room has been admired as an artistic success by people who would have expired if they knew that it cost only fifteen dollars. I have wandered into these details to show you what can be accomplished by covering old boxes and making chairs out of barrels. . . .
We have the prospect of three hundred dollars from the sale of the Little White Shadow. A third of this amount should be large enough to hire a little house somewhere at the seashore or in the hill country within comparatively easy distance of the city. I think the seashore preferable, if only that it can be reached by boat, which is much cheaper than traveling by rail. I don't care much for the external appearance of the house, if it's weatherproof and is surrounded by, or at least has a few, shade trees near it. But inside, the American fondness for fresh clean paint I sincerely hope will prevail. The floors will be either stained or painted, carpets being quite superfluous in the summer. . . .
That we have a home somewhere next summer is as certain as anything is ever certain. That we must furnish it is the greatest certainty of all. That the sooner we go to work to organize a part of our committee and get the furniture promised, the better. We can begin on our bed linen, tablecloths, dishtowels, and other towels as soon as we like, the sooner the better. For the best way to encourage belief in visions is to turn them into reality at once.
Bed linen marked with flower patterns indicating for which rooms they were to be used was a feature of all of her houses. As years went by, not only did the benefactors embroider, hem, and stitch articles for the vacation homes, but guests joined in the fun by making bureau covers, table covers, and table linen as their contribution toward the co-operative effort.
It was thus through hospitality that Emily Morgan found the greatest joy in living--hospitality in the fullest sense. Her consideration for her guests meant that she gave each of them time for renewal and expansion in any way each might please. Yet whenever she was at the houses she stood ready to share her hours, her home, and her heart. She planned for the comfort of each guest with group benefits in mind--though no rules were ever allowed.
Emily Morgan has been termed a romanticist and a sentimentalist. She was neither. Her love of people and her love of life enabled her to detect and reveal the romance and drama in the drabbest people. Her eyes glowed as she talked with others. She perceived in each man, woman, and child the Christ element, the development of personality, and the heroism in the face of life's difficulties.
Sentimentality in every form she abhorred. Her years of experience in living with four brothers trained her in a direct approach to problems. Her sense of humor gave savor to her existence. Sentiment she had for family associations, respect for tradition and convention as guides, but she disliked conservatism that hampered life or shut out any person or group of persons.
Through long years of sharing with others she found fulfillment of her best self, a satisfactory expression of her Christian religion, an opportunity for leadership, and growth in power. Her early diaries show a rebellion against formal religion per se and confusion at the willingness of so-called Christians to overlook the suffering of men, women, and children living in their cities. For several years she struggled against unbelief and lived in an agony of soul. When she had found an opportunity to plan for the happiness of others, she began to know the Christ whom she sought. It was through her obedience to His law "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" that she reached the higher law "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."
Unlike many generous people, she could receive with equal grace. She realized with keen insight that for others as well as herself it is more blessed to give than to receive. She accepted charmingly each material and spiritual gift, even though she had paid for a form of service. Her "Thank you" was in turn a gift of herself. Down through the years rings that vibrant voice-- "Thank you, Angel Pet," "Thank you, Duckie," or "Thank you, Carleen"--as she decorated her gratitude with some special name of endearment. She was punctilious about thanking those who helped to make a success of any undertaking. Endowed with an excellent memory, she made a practice of recording gifts small and large with accuracy. In 1890, the Heartsease logbook tells of sending over three hundred postal cards to friends of the vacation house for their gifts of money, time, vegetables, or flowers, and for their personal interest. Giving and acceptance alike were to her a sacrament, in which there was always a sense of the Divine Presence as well as a recognition of the value of the personality with whom she was dealing.
Scientists tell us that every material and human object vibrates in a certain key and that each of us responds more readily to those who are tuned to the same physical vibrations. If that be true, Emily Morgan was one in whom the overtones were as clear as the basic tones, for she responded to each person she met. Her Arab guide in the desert talked with her about points in common in the Christian and Mohammedan religions. To Jack, the caretaker at Beulahland, whose tendency to swear caused him great distress, she confessed her own difficulty in restraining her temper and holding her tongue when irritated.
At a concert given at Adelynrood on Holy Cross Day, 1937, in memory of Emily Morgan by the Bell Ringers of Newburyport, the founder of the organization said:
We are playing these bells today in recognition of the fact that we owe our existence to the sympathetic interest shown by Miss Morgan. For years I had talked of forming such a group of young people who could learn through playing together what it means to subordinate self for the sake of harmony in the whole. They could learn through playing for the sick and lonely in institutions something of the joy of alleviating suffering in the world. For years nobody seemed interested. People laughed at the idea. They thought the expense and difficulty of obtaining bells from England insurmountable obstacles. But when I told my hopes and vision to Miss Morgan, she understood at once. "You must do it," she said. Her financial contribution, the first received, gave me courage to go forward. Her encouragement gave substance to my vision. The Newburyport Bell Ringers owe their existence to Miss Morgan.
Thousands of persons received intimate friendly guidance through the power of the sympathy she developed through years of fellowship with Christ and His children. Her early journals
reveal her realization of the pain and suffering in the world. The death of her brother Edward in her twelfth year was a genuine tragedy. She recorded the death of President Garfield, the loss of a neighbor, and that of a cousin with a genuine sense of personal sorrow. When she heard of the birth of a small niece, she wrote of the difficulties and sorrows which awaited this newborn soul and prayed for her guidance. In her seventeenth summer, she felt an increasing sense of the futility of life, writing in September of 1879, "Oh dear, is there no end to human calamities?"
Distrust of self, depression, and despair cover the pages of her journal for two years. "O God, if there is a God, have mercy upon me, do not let my soul go into utter darkness. I don't seem to have strength of myself to help myself. Give me strength. Guide me to Thee."
In September 1881, her journal says: "I have been reading over what I wrote in former journals. Thank God, I have not gone to the bad, but through suffering have been brought nearer than ever before to His Divine Presence. I have learnt many lessons during the past year which were very hard and sad, but I have profited by them. They have taught me through myself what any amount of warning from others would never have done, and although they have caused me pain I am thankful for them."
December 24, 1881, she wrote: "That the pure light which the Christ Child shed may be the happiness of the sorrowing, the healer of the brokenhearted, is the sincere prayer of one who has long since almost forgotten to pray."
December 31, 1881: "I could no more write the childish outpourings I wrote a few years ago. The most genuine expression of sorrow or trouble lies in utter silence. In that lies the dignity of grief."
The love of Christ constrained her. Her early training and heritage gave her a knowledge of the Bible, discipline in the use of prayer, and regularity in the externals of religion. Her childhood sensitiveness to the inequalities in life and to the tragedies in existence was never lost, but became expressed through her ability to work for others in the power of Christ's strength. At various times she had a distinct vision of Him. Of her experience in the desert of Sahara, record will be found elsewhere in this book. A friend writes: "The mystical and material were happily mixed in Emily Morgan. I believe she had visions all her life. Here are two that she related to me:
"The Lord said to me, 'You may pray as much as you like, but if you will get up at 4 A.M. to write letters I can't prevent your being cross at 4 P.M.' "
"Just before my thyroid operation, I lay awake all night. Toward morning I was conscious of the Lord's Presence beside me. He said, 'You have wanted to see me all your life.' I answered, 'Yes, I have.' Then He said, 'But you can't see me until you die.' Then I turned on my side and fell asleep."
A review of her life shows many serious illnesses and operations, yet her vitality and high spirits were such that she appeared in excellent health during the greater part of her life. She had no patience with discussions about her diet and any other restrictions. She took little interest in food at any time. Emily's humor and high spirits were marked characteristics. Among her notebooks are those including funny stories and unusual epitaphs, some of which she illustrated with sketches of the monuments on which they appeared. Gaiety prevailed whenever she was present. She was a gifted raconteur.
Members of the Girls' Club of Hartford recall the happy evenings when Miss Morgan was present. Mrs. Frank P. Chisholm, a member of that club, relates the story of an evening when as she climbed the stairs to the clubroom on Main Street in Hartford, she heard peals of laughter, which she recognized as an indication that Miss Morgan was present. On entering the room, Mrs. Chisholm discovered that the occasion for the fun was Miss Morgan's unique way of earning money for the club by charging five cents a look when she removed her wig and showed her bald head. Fever had removed her hair, but instead of being embarrassed by her shortage of natural head-covering, she made the evening a hilarious one by waving her wig in the air as each new person entered the room and willingly paid her nickel.
"Stunt parties" were a diversion which she always enjoyed. The housemothers of Heartsease tell of preparations for Miss Morgan's advent as being an excuse for such parties. At Adelynrood, Putnam Elms, and Beulahland, these gay times were well-remembered events. Every person took some part in the entertainment. Shy people forgot their diffidence when disguised by some simple costume, and hidden talents were brought into the open as laughter leveled differences.
Miss Mary L. Park, who was Adelyn Howard's nurse for years, wrote of Emily's high spirits: "It is no reflection on Emily Morgan to say that her visits to Adelyn were often dreaded by the nurse, as they were always followed by days of pain and exhaustion, but well worth the cost to Adelyn, so she thought.
"Emily always came with arms full and wrappings never would stay in place to cover the contents. I remember her on one of the last visits, her face shining with perspiration and goodwill, a bust of the 'Laughing Boy' on one arm with the cover slipped off, and numerous books and packages on the other arm. And she spent the day!"
The high spirits which enabled her to taste life with such zest and to infect others with her joyousness had to be restrained when moments of quick anger flooded her consciousness. By bantering repartee she often found an outlet for her deep irritation. Intolerance and pettiness annoyed her. She frequently stated that her special form of intolerance was her annoyance at narrowness in others. Details bothered her, but she disciplined her mind to consider matters which had to be decided. When necessary decisions had been made, she refused to "wallow" in them and resented repetitious discussions, especially if responsibility for the situation had been delegated to someone else.
Her ability to concentrate upon immediate problems and to lay responsibility on other shoulders enabled her to carry several similar projects at once. Each summer during most of her life she carried two heavy loads, the running of a vacation house and the leadership in the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. She chose able persons to take charge of details in each of these projects, and gave serious attention to the material and personality problems presented in the place in which she found herself. She did not forget the absent, nor ignore their difficulties, but she refused to worry about matters to which she could not attend because she did not have all the facts in hand. At a sacrifice of time and strength, she traveled frequently from one home to another during the summer season, that she might settle questions which she alone could decide, and that she might give sympathy and courage to her friends and colleagues.
Pride was at once her boon and her bane. Pride gave her an independence which enabled her to do pioneer work and to find satisfaction in what she could accomplish. Although Emily Morgan was proud of her democratic ideas and achievements, she was fundamentally an aristocrat, and consciously so. Her emphasis upon the great chasms in station and class and her effort to bridge these chasms indicated her awareness of class distinctions. Noblesse oblige governed her minutest actions. Yet she was humble as only those persons can be who have struggled with pride. When those whom she accepted as coworkers in generosity criticized her unfairly, she accepted their statements with gay courtesy and self-control, although her pride was frequently wounded and on rare occasions she gave vent to her wrath in the secrecy of her room and among a few friends. As the head of an organization, she examined her reasons for decisions with great care, lest her natural preference for personal prestige blind her eyes to a step that would be good for the group. She often allowed herself to be misjudged in order that she might keep an organization on even keel.
Emily Morgan was a loyal member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, but she was never partisan in her devotion either to her branch of the Christian Church or to any group within the Church. She was a member of Trinity Church, Hartford, in her childhood days. Later when her family became members of Christ Church, now the Cathedral in Hartford, she attended services regularly there. Returning to the Cathedral toward the end of her life, the memories of services held there when her mother, father, and brothers had been present nearly overwhelmed her in one of her rare experiences of regret for the days that were gone. In her latter years she was a member of Trinity Church, Boston, where she had a Bible class for young women. When at Putnam Elms she attended Trinity Church, Brooklyn, Connecticut.
Of her Church background, Emily Morgan wrote in 1927:
My mother's people left England at a time when the Puritans made it too hot for them to stay there. They fled because they were Church of England people who suffered for their allegiance, so I never knew any other tradition.
When I was little, my mother was in correspondence with some later leaders of the Oxford movement. When I was in England when I was nine years old, I was taken at Oxford to hear Dr. Pusey and others preach at St. Mary's, and in London Canon Liddon at St. Paul's, also Cardinal Manning; and my father took me to hear Spurgeon, to round out my preaching education; and again on the Continent I was taken to hear great preachers, opportunities utterly unappreciated by me, so that several years later when I was back in America being prepared for confirmation, I volunteered to my parish priest the information:
"I'll tell you one thing about my parents,--they have made me listen to sermons all right!" On being asked how much I remembered of them, I answered, "Nothing, and I like fresh air!" "Pert little piece!" I can hear someone say, but at least I was not a prig!
My brother served as curate under Mr. Bennett of Frome Selwood, and Mother had much correspondence with some of the friends he made there, and with others in England, and for her generation I suppose she might be called "High Church." Yet many years afterward she said to me--shortly before she died at the age of eighty: "Never forget you belong to a great universal Church moving onward to the City of God. In your own particular branch of it which the title page of the Prayer Book calls 'The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,' never belong to a party in it, for it has been my experience, especially with women, if you are partisan, the party becomes the whole Church. If you try to recognize the best in each party and hammer away at that, and try and acquire the fervor of great evangelicals as I have known them, and recognize the integrity and breadth of Broad Churchmen, and accept the sacramental teaching of High Churchmen, you will belong to the whole of your Church but you will not belong to a party in it."
It is seldom perhaps that one receives such direct teaching by a veteran who taught her her first prayers, and trying to follow this advice has helped me in many situations, especially at Adelynrood.
Although her love of beauty gave her joy in a well-ordered ritual, she was troubled by regulations which made any one type of ritual obligatory for the whole Church. She strove without any slackening of effort to keep the services at Adelynrood of a moderate form that would be acceptable to any type of churchmanship.
The daily services held in the chapels at Beulahland and at Putnam Elms were attended by Protestants, Jews, and Roman Catholics. Personal difficulties and group differences were ironed out by the prayers and hymns used in those short daily times of prayer. Because she practiced the Presence of God herself, Emily Morgan led others into His Presence directly. To go into chapel from a scene of rollicking laughter and to take part in the service with profound reverence was not a strange transition for her, because she traveled gaily on the heavenly way.
In the chapel at Putnam Elms there hang framed pages from a book illumined by a well-known artist. The texts are taken from St. John's Epistles and are called "Old Love Letters." In 1924 Emily Morgan wrote of these:
I am studying one of these texts which hangs under the picture of Fra Angelico's "Paradiso." It is illumined with many yellow butterflies just born from ugly shapes, and which have fluttered from darkness into light. They fly in and out of a text assertive of a joy yet to be, when we shall have passed from ugliness and all that mars life here to perfect beauty and from shadows into the endless sunshine of a radiant day. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."