Vassar College Digital Library

Pratt, Mary (Morris) | to mother, Apr. 18, 1880:

VC 1880
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vassar:24950,,Box 72,VCL_Letters_Pratt_Mary_1880_007
April 18, 1880
1 item
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: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007001
Vassar College
April 18, '80.
My dear Mither -
It seems so long since I
last wrote to you that I really had to stop
and consider whether or not I did write
to you last week. Quite an event has
happened to us this week- our new Lab-
oratory has been dedicated with appropri-
ate ceremonies. We had for a long time
known that the exercises were to come
off on the 16th and had speculated
on how many recitations would have
to be excused on that account. A
few nights prior to the day the Prex
made the formal announcement and
said that there would be no college
exercises after 3.15 P.M. except-
Chapel service. So our dream of a
half-holiday vanished in thin air since
the last class is over at 3.15-


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007002
and dinner is the only college ex-
ercise from that time until Chapel.
But it so happened that I had
two recitations with the President-
on Friday and he had to excuse
his classes to attend the meeting of
the Board of Trustees. A great many
strangers were present and they were
invited for 2.30 an hour earlier
than our invitation, so we under-
stood that we were not wanted to
investigate the Laboratory with them.
At 3.30 there were exercises in
the chapel and the Trustees
and Teachers etc. all walked over
from the new building in procession
— fortunately the rain held up a
little just then — One trustee is
an old man over eighty and he has never missed a single meeting since
the college was organized. There
was a large choir of the girls and they
sang one of the psalms & a compo-
sition of Prof. Ritter's. President


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007003
Caldwell presided and introduced
Matthew Vassar Jr. as first speaker—
As he said to one of the girls in the
afternoon; the family was not a
speech-making one, and he was
not an educated man, but when
he made mistakes they must think
that they came from the head and
not from the heart. He gave a
sort of historical sketch of the founding
of the college and of the altera-
tions and additions which had
been made; and then presented
Pres- Caldwell with the keys of the
building. The President made a
speech in reply and then intro-
duced Prof. Cooley who made his
little speech and a very nice one
too. Then after singing by the
whole congregation and the bene-
diction all the guests and "those
students who had already been in-
vited" were requested to partake
of a collation in the dining hall.


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007004
The poor Profs, had been told in a
notice read in the dining-room the
day before that as so many strangers
were to be present, they would have
to wait and be served after the
others were all through. We ap-
preciated the advantages of seniors
then, as we had second-best seats
assigned to us. We had a de-
licious collation and afterwards the
best after-dinner speeches I have
ever heard. The President called
up about seven or eight of the
assembly and made some very
bright remarks himself. Young
Mr. Silliman the architect of the
building was called upon and
made a very neat little reply.
In substance it was: that he had
no more expected to make an af-
ter dinner-speech than Daniel
did when he went to a dinner-
party with the lions, but Dan-
iel had managed to get through


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007005
it somehow and he guessed he should
and that the way an architect was
accustomed to speak was in bricks
and mortar. Prof. Backus
also made a very good speech, &
one that was highly appreciated
& warmly applauded by the girls.
We then adjourned to the parlors
which had been beautified by
contributions of sofas tables, &
chairs from the girls' rooms, and
promenaded around admiring the
flowers especially two large orna-
mental pieces sent by the father
of one of the students from Albany.
They were wreaths of laurel and
on a ground of white flowers in the
center were the initials of the two
Vassar brothers who had furnished
the funds for the building. I se-
cured one laurel leaf which will
hereafter adorn my memorabil book.
The guests went pretty early as
it rained very hard and there were


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007006
either ever so many thunder
showers or else one everlastingly big
one. We spent a good part of
the evening dancing in Room J. and
had altogether a very jolly time.
Tomorrow the classes meet for
the first time in the new building.
Lyman Abbot was present at
the celebration and stayed over
with us. This morning he preached
and he will address the Society for
Religious Inquiry to-night. He is
a very interesting speaker and
an awfully homely man, but in
listening one can forget his looks. The
first time he came here we thought
him some hydrocephalic manager
from the Five Points Mission and
dreaded the services- The attitude
of our minds soon changed though!
The lawns are growing very
beautiful & green and the ear-
ly flowers are out. I have seen
blood root and adder's tongues, &


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007007
hyacinths, and this morning Jane &
I found a pansy and some violets.
Tell Min to investigate the old pan-
sy roots in the garden and she
may bet a bountiful reward. I
hope she will keep up her Journal
for we both enjoyed it so much last
week- and I am already looking for-
ward to the day when it will be my
turn again. How does Grand-
mother get on? I think it was real
provoking of her to go and choose
this time to be sick just to get
out of coming up here for Founder's
Day. Lizzie Skinner and I in-
vited Fannie & Norvelle Whaley but
haven't yet heard whether or not they
can come. If they don't I shall not
have any one here. My dress r-
eposes in a large closet which the
house-keeper let us take & hang our
nice dresses in. What do you think
about the fan performance? I wait
anxiously to know.


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880007008
I wonder what has become of
Marion. She hasn't written to me
since long before vacation, and I
don't know her address. If you
have it, I wish you would send it
to me when you write. I sup-
pose it is vain to hope to hear from
I suppose I shall be pretty busy
this week, but will try to write again
before it is over. I can't think of
any more news so will say good bye-
Mary S. Morris.