Literary Associations of Berkshire County

tain torrents, beautiful meadows and pine-dark glens.
      Literature thrives best amid the beautiful. Amid scenes of loveliness it buds and blossoms and scatters its sweetest fragrance abroad. So has it been in Berkshire. A literary halo invests this charming region. Indeed this Berkshire land of ours seems wellnigh the "lake region" of America. Here early memories of Catherine Sedgwick and William Cullen Bryant still linger, while later came Longfellow and Holmes, Hawthorne and the adventurous Melville, to add storied loveliness to the unsung.

Main Street, Stockbridge.

Main Street, Stockbridge.

      Preceding them all there came to Stockbridge faithful old Jonathan Edwards, metaphysical, doctrinal, preaching rugged sermons to his redskin congregation. He had left his long-time prosperous but now pugnacious church in Northampton. He wished more leisure for devout speculation; yet support he must have. The old Indian mission at Stockbridge was without a pastor. Here was support, leisure, invitation. So he came. If his discourses resembled the published reflection of his six-years' stay,—among others his treatise on the "Freedom of the Will," "The Nature of True Virtue," and "God's Last End in Creation," —those Indians must have listened to sermons of an abstruseness and a ruggedness such as no modern, paleface, church-going audience hears or would long endure nowadays. It would have been interesting to look in upon this intellectual giant at work in his tiny shop of thought. Here he was to be found early, all the day, and late at his desk. Scarcely did he share the meals of his family, but having asked the divine blessing he would withdraw to his study, being careful however to come back and return thanks just as they were finishing. Often at night he would fasten a pin in his curtain to recall some thought with the dawn. There is a simple grandeur most captivating in the contemplation of this great mind, the peer of Locke, Berkeley, or Spinoza among Old World lights, out here on the American frontier, preaching to the Indians, while his wife and children sent the deft product of their handiwork to Boston to eke out a scanty living. He did not get on over-well with the Indians. Though earnest, we need paint him as no Eliot, no Sargeant. He remarks pathetically in one of his writings on the very poor prospects of the Houssatonnuck Indians if their salvation depended on the study of the evidences of Christianity. Indeed, he must have wondered sometimes whether their dusky skins really did form the earthly coverings of immortal souls.
      The house in which he lived may still be seen in Stockbridge, though now much changed, as "Edwards Hall," the summer inn. At the west end of the house, on the ground floor, the visitor is shown—presumably in good faith— the famous "closet study" in which the great theologian did his work. It is a little nook, neither in length nor in breadth measuring much more than a man's height.

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