In the spring of 1882, only four years before she was fatally stricken with nephritis, shaken by the death of the Reverend Charles Wadsworth and the seemingly mortal illness of her admired Judge Otis Lord, Emily Dickinson wrote urgently to Washington Gladden, the Springfield pastor whose liberal sermons and essays she had admired. "Is immortality true?" she asked with poignant desperation. Gladden's response, as confident and consoling as he had intended it to be, failed to bolster her soul, troubled as it was by doubt and bewilderment. In fact, a year later she would write again, this time to Charles H. Clark, a friend of Wadsworth's, seeking the consolation and assurance which would not come: "Are you certain there is another life?" she had asked insistently. "When overwhelmed to know, I fear that few are sure."



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