Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-14 transcription
Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 14, Letters from Nathan Fiske (HHJ’s father) to HHJ (then Helen Maria Fiske), 1844-1846
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995
Addressed: Miss Martha B. Vinal, Boston, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sept 18
Amherst Sabbath Evening Sept. 15, 1844
My Dear Helen,
Your letter, dated Sept. 5th gave me much pleasure, which was made the greater because the letter contained as it were three, one from cousin Martha & another from Ann although very short. I wrote immediately to Ann, as I could not address you both, giving her the preference because it is a long time since I had written to her. I told her about my journey to Amherst, & my health which continues about the same, & does not appear to have been injured by my attention to College duties thus far. I was very glad to know that Aunt Vinal had become able to go down stairs & trust she is now perfectly restored. I hope you will be heartily ready to help her & cousin Martha, & the Misses Scholfield's in every way you can; & you certainly can in many ways if you are truly disposed.
Need I urge you, my dear child, to be diligent & faithful in seeking improvement? You are situated where you can derive great benefit from conversation with those who are older & more experienced & better instructed than yourself; & if you will be just to yourself, it will be vastly better for you than to be wasting time in the idle tattle of younger companions. I expect you will pay some attention to study, & do it regularly & systematically; & one exercise, you recollect, I named to you which you can attend to without troubling cousin Ann or any one; that is, translating from Caesar. I wish you, for the present, to devote one hour a day, to this study; first get a section thoroughly just as if you were going to recite it to Mr. Tyler; then review it; then write out your translation & keep the first paper; then copy it, or part of it, into your letter to me; the writing will thus form another exercise. Take three sheets of the ruled foolscap paper I gave you (or if you have used that) buy some ruled foolscap, & make you a neat book, by folding it once; write your translation in this book, neatly; it will be best to write on your slate & correct it, & then copy into the book (I shall send your slate); I shall compare what you send me with the original, & send you remarks upon it. I hope there will be a beginning in the very next letter; you know I must have a letter from you this week, & before its close.
Another exercise to which you can attend without making your cousins much trouble is studying a portion in some history, & giving to them jointly or to one of them an oral account of it; or if you prefer it, you might take Goodrich's History of the United States with Emerson's questions. -- The study of the Bible you will of course continue; and daily you will read it, I entreat you not to forget the promises & resolutions of last year. I thought of you, my dear Helen, & my heart was full all the time this afternoon, during Dr. Humphrey's sermon, from the text, "Seek me early & ye shall find me"; nothing do I derive so much as to see you evincing a love for your Redeemer, & a conformity in temper & conduct to his requirements & example.
You will find in the box of clothing a letter from Miss Lincoln; she is going to Alabama, & wishes you to write to her directing to Eutaw Green Co. Ala. As soon as you have received her letter, I hope you will write, & I trust you will comply with her wish & tell her, as she is a kind friend to your best interest, your feelings, there will be no room in your letter for foolish dreams of the kind that were running in your head last spring; if you answer her letters as she has a right to expect, the correspondence will be very useful to you.
Your clothes are packed so far as I can find them & all the other things that Aunt vinal wanted I believe except the old Plaid cloaks, which I cannot crowd into the box or trunk, & I do not think they will be needed at present, indeed I think one of them is too small now even for Ann.
Be particular to give my affectionate regards to Uncle Scholfield & all the cousins.
Your loving father N.W. Fiske
My Dear Martha,
I beg you to excuse my directing to you a letter most of which is written to another: accept my thanks for your accompaniment to Helen's. I have packed the clothes, & find they fill the large trunk & another considerable box; I believe I have put in the whole excepting the old cloaks above mentioned. I am sure I do not know where you will find garment room for the budget; Aunt will be obliged to give them away for want of a store-house. Give my love to her & Uncle as well as Ann. I am greatly rejoiced to learn that Aunt was no worse.
The trunk & box will probably be in Boston, at the Depot of the Worcester Rail Road, on Thursday or Friday. I have directed them to the care of David Vinal Esq, presuming that, if you would let him know of the time of their arrival, he would willingly see to their removal to Charlestown; I have seen a waggon going over Warren bridge called Charlestown Express. The key to the trunk is nailed to the inside of the box. The smallest bureau is twenty one inches inside & forty one in length, & if it is not too large, I think it best to send it; even if it should be necessary to sell it in Boston. I think it would bring XXXXXX more than can be obtained here, enough to pay the freight or nearly so; let me know what Uncle and Grandpa think.
Aunt will be perhaps pleased to know that there is a prospect of my having a family in the house by the 1st of October; consisting merely of a mother & her two daughters, a Mrs. Dwight of Belchertown. I expect to board with them, if they come.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of David Vinal Esq, Earl House, Hanover St., Boston, Politeness of Mr. Sweetsen
Amherst Sep. 30 1846
I thank you, my dear Child, for your very welcome letter received on Saturday. The translations I have not yet compared with the original, because my Caesar is not at my College-room; I intend to do it before sending this letter. I am pleased with the general neatness of the chirography; but it is better in the first part of the letter than in the latter part. And I will point out to you some of the letters which you do not form well: one is the small f at the beginning of a word; thus f, or f; this is bad; it should be thus f or f. Your p often is thus p or p; the flourish should be omitted; it is not neat & simple; the letter should be thus p or p. I shall mention only one other thing now; your crossing for a t always comes after it; thus the instead of the; to instead of to.
I readily understand how the sights at the Mechanics' Fair show afford you great pleasure, & am glad you enjoyed it so much. But you will be very careful not to put your Aunt or Cousins to trouble in order that your mere curiosity may be gratified. I feel a great confidence that you will strive to promote their happiness & to render them assistance every way in your power. Your obligations to them are much greater than you can now realize; such as call on you for the sincerest gratitude, & the greatest effort to make some return.
I received your former letter, & was glad that you were resolved to abide by your promise as to reading. And I know of nothing from the pen of those authors you named which I wish you to read; they are not suitable for any person to read. As to your inquiry respecting Shakespear, you already know my opinion; & I shall feel much more happy to know that you are not reading his plays, or those of any other dramatist. Both your head & your heart may be vastly more improved by other books. Hannah More's works contain a great deal that may be useful to you.
I am & have been many days very busy in stowing away things, to prepare the house for the family coming in this week; which is not that of Mrs. Dwight of Belchertown as I mentioned in my last letter, but Mr. Joy, the bonnet maker; he was desirous to come & persuaded her to take the house in which he is living; I also was very willing, thinking it better to have some man in the house, when I am away, & especially in the winter. I expect to board with him; Mrs. Joy is said to be an excellent woman & a good housekeeper; but I cannot have a pleasanter boarding-place than with Mrs. Snell. I ought to tell you that poor Lizah & Martha are almost sick with the whooping-cough. I want you to tell Ann that she must write to Pa very soon; she can write a little in a letter which you may finish; let her tell me whether she will give her green watering-pot to Martha; it will please Martha & I wish to give it to her in Ann's name.
Your muff was sent in the box, as is probably found out ere this time; it was in a newspaper with camphor to protect it from moths during the summer. The pieces like your cloaks were not sent, as I did not think of looking into the trunk containing woollen remnants. I will send them with the bureau, as before. The bureau (Ann's) I expect to send in a few days; ie. as soon as I get the things in the house arranged.
My health is perhaps a little better; only I have had a light cold from the late damp weather. Give my love to Uncle & aunt, Grandpa, all at Mr Scholfield's, & give Ann half a dozen kisses for me.
Oct.1 - Tuesday Evening - Mr. Sweetsen will take this & leave it at the Earl House in Hanover Street; & I must close it without adding more. I have not found moment's time to browse my Caesar, & examine your translation by the original, but I shall do it; & I wish you to continue them, & send me another letter this week.
I am to night very tired by working cleaning the rooms for Mr. Joy, the parlor & my study, which I reserve for myself, are in a perfect clutter; & in such confusion that you could not tell which way to turn; & I must lace on a sacking to a bedstead before I can have a place to sleep.
So now good night, my dear Helen, & remember how anxious your father is that you regard the gracious calls of your Savior & do not depart from him so that he shall cast you off. Tell me whether you have written to Miss Lincoln.
Very affectionately your father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Oct 8
Amherst, Oct. 7, 1844
My Dear Helen,
I received your letter on Saturday & the paper a day or two before. I have examined your translations, & they are in general very good. I have detected only a few mistakes; some of which you will see when you attempt to parse the Latin words that I shall mention. In section 18, duxist; also the next word after it, quod; in section 19, nos iter facturos; viis notis; in section 20, civitas; illi imperata fecerunt, in section 22, haec; ad canium, quod; permotus. Did you know that you omitted one section?
The little black muff I cannot find; I think it must be that you left it at Mrs. Hunt's, or that Ann took it with her when she went to Boston with Grandpa Vinal in the Spring; & the more think so because I recollect carefully doing up the fur caps & the grey muff in camphor to preserve them, & I should have done the same with the black muff had it been at home.
Mr. Joy's family came into the house on last Thursday, & are now nearly settled. But the things in my rooms are still all huddled together, & I scarcely know what to do. I reserve the study, & the little chamber adjoining containing my books; also the parlor, & the little chamber leading to the garret. In the parlor I have put down the sitting-room carpet, & set up the bedstead which was in the nursery. I sleep there very comfortably, although the room contains also the sofa, your bureau, five lookingglasses, 14 chairs, besides the monstrous sick-chair, a wash-stand, three trunks etc. etc. The beds & comforters are in the chamber leading to the garret. The crockery is stowed in the two cupboards with locks on them in the china closet; the piano remains in the sitting-room; the rest of the things are crowded into a room made in the west part of the new building by a partition running through the center from north to south.
It seems pleasanter since the family came in than it did before, & I hope I shall find it agreeable to board with them; I shall begin to in a few days probably.
Martha Snell was much pleased with the watering pot & sends her thanks. She is quite unwell to day, having had the whopping-cough for some time.
Mrs. David Parsons died last Saturday, & is to be buried tomorrow. She felt a great interest in your welfare & that of Ann & often inquired abut you both. I did not expect her death so soon, & being very busy in getting our things moved for Mr. Joy, I did not see her but twice for about two weeks before her death; for which I now feel very sorry as she seemed always glad to have me call. I trust she is gone to meet her Saviour, & meet in his presence your dear mother for whom when sick she did so much. She was a mother also to Ann, you know, for several weeks, when her own mother was obliged to go away for health.
Your birth day is at hand, my dear child, & will you not begin now to number your days aright & apply your heart unto heavenly wisdom?
I beg you not to let the day pass without your reviewing the scenes of the year that is gone; consider the hopes respecting you which your mother & father cherished on your last birth-day, when you had just returned from School; your mother's sickness & death; your own sickness & unfortunate attempts at school; study carefully your heart in looking over these things; ask God in humble prayer to show you, what you ought to see, & to give you such feelings as you ought to have; & if you have been at any time allowing yourself in any thoughts, desires, or practices which you know to be wrong, or injurious to your health, or inconsistent with the instructions of either of your parents, will you not solemnly resolve to forsake them entirely?
Give my love & thanks to Aunt & tell her I expect she will be faithful to her promise to let me know immediately if either of my daughters fails to do exactly according to her wishes. I wish to be remembered to Mrs. Hooker; tell her I thank her as well as her husband for his kind visit to me at Weston, & ask her to say to XXX M. Hooker when she writes, that I am daily waiting for a letter from him.
Much love to Grandpa & all our friends. Now here are ever so many kisses for Ann. You must have her write some in your next.
Your affectionate father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Oct 25
Amherst, Oct 24, 1844
My Dear Helen,
Mrs. Humphrey arrived last evening, & brought safely the box of grapes, which are very good indeed. Your letter was quite as welcome however as the fruit. The book mark also came uninjured, although to put it among soft fruit was hardly safe.
I am very sorry to hear of Ann's sickness. I hope Aunt will not get sick from fatigue & anxiety. I do hope, my Dear Helen, that you exert yourself to help Aunt every way possible.
Your translation ends with the close of the 25th section. But do you not keep a copy yourself? I shall now notice some of the mistakes, by quoting the English words, "meeting of the Sambrivae of Gaul" -- "ordered one to be led to Caius Fabius" -- "Eburoni" -- Carnerti" -- "in the presence of many chiefs from the state" -- "In the mean time he had reported etc."
You ask me a great many questions which I cannot answer now. Do not be so much in a hurry. Be more patient in learning one thing first, & then something else. Your constant danger is that you will run from one thing to another & lose the power of self-control & perseverance. I am very willing that you should study Niri Romae with Ann Hooker (don't say Annie), but you must go on regularly with the book after you begin with her, & must read the whole of it; I mean read through to the end.
The piano is to remain in Mr. Joy's room. His daughter Emily, 12 yrs old, is learning to play, & will be instructed I believe by Mrs. Underhill. The instrument is not likely to be injured, & there is no other room in which to put it.
I have commenced boarding in the family & it seems very pleasant. I believe I told you that I sleep in the parlor, the girl takes the care of it; but I take care of the other rooms reserved. I have got the things at length put into some order, except in the back room of the new building; there confusion yet reigns undisturbed.
The bureau has I trust arrived in safety & is opened ere this. The letter to Mr. Curtis was in the left hand short drawer, & I hope it has been by this time put into his hands. I wanted to have it delivered as soon as it could be.
You have not told me whether you have written to Miss Lincoln; if you have not, you must do it without delaying any longer. When you write me tell me about Grandpa Vinal's health. Have you written to Aunt Maria? I received a letter from her a few days since; they were then well generally.
I have also received letters from Oroomiah, from Mrs. Perkins, from Moses, & from George a young brother of Max Johannan. Moses seems to have become truly pious, & is preparing to preach the gospel. He sends a great deal of love to his sisters, Helen & Ann, & expresses deep sympathy for the loss of their dear mother. They had not received my letter informing them of her death, but had learned it through Mr. Bliss at
Eageroom. I hope Moses is not deceiving himself with a delusive temporary feeling. And I cannot help asking you, my dear child, what has become of all that interest which you once manifested in reference to the claims of God and Christ upon your heart & life? You express your emotion at the thought of being fourteen years old, & yet knowing so little; you ought to feel deeper emotion at the thought of being so old, & not a devoted friend & disciple of the Redeemer. He is the only being who can do for you what your present & eternal welfare requires, & the only friend that can always be depended on. Your earthly father & all other kindred & friends are dying mortals, & you may soon be deprived of them; but Christ abideth forever, & if you truly choose him now in your youth, he will never forsake you.
Give my affectionate love to Uncle & Aunt, tell Aunt I feel greatly obliged to her for writing in your letter. Give my love to Grandpa also, & all the friends. -- Now, my Dear Ann, here are some more kisses for you, XX I hope soon to have a letter from you.
From your affectionate & anxious
father N.W. Fiske
P.S. You must tell me in your next (early next week) at what time Aunt thinks it best for you to go to Falmouth. Tell me also whether the bureau arrived safe.
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Boston, MAS, Nov 26
Amherst, Nov. 23, 1844
My Dear Helen,
I am greatly pleased to hear of your safe arrival at Uncle Hooker's & of your diligence & happiness. I should have written to you before this time, had I not been so much occupied in preparing to leave the house the coming vacation in addition to a crowd of duties in College. The letter commenced by you on the morning of starting for Falmouth came seasonably, with a short letter from Ann & another from Cousin Martha. You inquire so particularly about my health that I will speak of it here; I am not by any means free from the difficulty in my chest, yet I seem to have gained some strength, & my cough is less. I bathe every morning my whole body in cold water, & think this has been of great service. I am also taking a medicine prescribed by Dr. Gridley, which he thinks will gradually change the action of the glands & so affect the state of the lungs & bronchia indirectly ; I am not sensible of any effect whatever from it.
I am now much affected by having to make arrangements to remove the remains of your dear mother & little brothers to Mt. Auburn. I feel it a duty & a privilege to gratify the wishes of Aunt Vinal in the respect, she did so much for the happiness of your mother, & is so solicitous & watchful for the welfare of yourself & your sister Ann, & so much interested too for your father, that we are all of us, my dear child, laid under the greatest obligations to strive every way to promote her comfort & conform to her desires. And if you ever feel a temptation to do any thing wrong, I hope, in addition to all other motives that ought to influence you to resist, you will think how much distress you will make this dear Aunt, this mother to your mother & mother to yourself & Ann.
All these considerations conspire to urge you to a most obliging, amiable, affectionate deportment in your present situation. You may secure the highest benefits as to your character & habit, now, if you will be faithful to yourself. Especially I do hope, Helen, that you will improve your advantages for cultivating the fear of the Lord, & making attainments in true piety.
I am far less anxious about your intellectual culture than respecting the training of your heart & dispositions. I beg you to rise above youthful vanities & to "flee youthful lusts". Be fearful lest you should by your words or deeds or example in any way exert an unfavorable influence on any one with whom you associate; any degree of such evil influence, besides being highly criminal in the sight of God, will come back upon yourself with more than doubled power to push you downward in folly & error.
As to your studies while you attend the school, I shall refer XXXX XX XXX the subject to your teacher. I shall send (if there is opportunity) your bound Ms. for receiving neat copies of your compositions; but I wish you to write neatly & carefully in a book which you have or which you can make, translations from your Latin. I do not insists on your writing translations of all you read, but several times a week I wish you to do a little; you may select the portions which interest you most. Prefix to each piece a title made by yourself, & state the source whence you take the piece by the proper references to author, chapter, section, etc. according to the divisions which may exist in the case. Then it will be useful to add after the piece a few remarks of your own, in making which let your object be your own improvement in real knowledge & correct judgment. I want you to show me a neat book of this kind, when I see you; when that will be I cannot tell.
I hope to be at Boston on Monday, & you may direct your letters therefore to the care of Uncle Vinal for the present.
Give my most affectionate regards to Mr. & Mrs. Hooker & Ann & let me hope that you will render yourself a truly welcome & beloved member of a family who have all manifested so much concern for your best good.
With very ardent attachment
I am your father
Addressed: Miss H. M. Fiske
Charlestown, Dec. 27, 1844
My Dear Helen:
I was glad to receive your letter on returning from Weston to Charlestown. I found Grandpa Fiske as well as usual, & all the cousins busy as ever. Martha is keeping the district school; Henry, Edward & Abby are among her scholars, some of the big boys, I understand, feel that it is rather abasing their dignity to go to a school ma'am.
Aunt Maria came down to C. with me & staid one night at Aunt Vinal's & another at Aunt Warren's, & returned yesterday, in the cars. She was here so as to attend Ann's Birthday Assembly, which was truly a very pleasant affair; & I trust Ann will feel very sensibly how kind Uncle & Aunt both were to her in relation to it. I must leave it for her to give you an account of the affair.
Yesterday Ann passed the day at Uncle Scholfields & I also dined there. We called on Grandpa at his room; he said his limbs felt weary, & that he was weak, but on the whole he was pretty well.
The above items make up all the news, unless I mention that we had an alarm of fire last night from east Cambridge, while Martha was attending at the wedding of Miss Parker; we have not yet heard what was burned. -- I hope the people of Falmouth will detect the incendiary who has been among them, if there be such a person.
I suppose you are going on prosperously with your Latin & other studies. Do not forget to pay attention to your penmanship; the only way to have a good chirography is to be careful in every instance of writing; if you allow yourself to write hastily & carelessly once, that will tend to make you so again, & before you are aware a fatal habit will be formed.
Your translations you will keep up. And I want you in you next letter to write the Latin of some short English sentence; give the English sentence, & then your Latin for the same.
I need not repeat how anxious I am that you shall prove yourself truly kind & grateful in the family where you have been so affectionately welcomed. You will consider that this is to be proved by constant self-control & prompt cheerful compliance with every regulation of the family, & every wish of those who are so much interested in your welfare.
I feel great confidence that you will be happy in improving your privileges, & hope that your interest in serving & honoring your Saviour will exert continually an increasing influence over all your feelings and deportment.
Aunt Vinal desires me to give her love to you & says she cannot write now.
You will give my grateful respects to all the family. I expect to return to Amherst in about a week, or a little more.
Your affectionate father
Charlestown, December 27, 1844.
My dear sister
I was very glad to hear from you
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Jan 23
Amherst, Jan. 21. 1845.
My Dear Helen,
Last week I received a letter from you dated Dec. 11, 1844, which date should have been as I infer from the contents, Jan. 11. 1845. I was waiting with many wishes for a letter, & was not disturbed particularly by the error as to date. Only it reminded me how apt some persons are to mistake their own mere imaginations to be realities, so that they are scarcely able to distinguish between the conceptions which are accidentally awakened in their minds & veritable matters of fact. If you know any body who is too much given to indulge in flights of fancy & airy dreams & castle-building & story-making, what advice would you give to such an one?
It gives me the greatest pleasure to believe, my dear child, that you are "trying to do right". I need not reiterate what has so often been said to you, respecting the point which lies nearest my heart concerning your character & conduct; nor can it be necessary to repeat those considerations already presented to you respecting your great obligations to Mr. & Mrs. Hooker for their exceeding kindness in inviting you into their family as they have done. A sincere desire to oblige those around you, & to render them happy will be essential to enable you to do right; a disposition to gratify yourself XXXX instead of conforming to the wishes of others when those wishes thwart your own will inevitably lead you into things which are wrong in your intercourse with those whose age, character, & relations to you are such as to claim your respect, your gratitude & your affectionate obedience. You cannot misunderstand this remark, I hope, so as to imagine that it is intended to encourage you in yielding to the solicitations or example of those who have no claim upon your special regard, such as youthful acquaintances who may be ready to lead the way in foolish or hurtful practices.
I am amused with your account of your effort & success in bread-making & cooking, & I hope Aunt Hooker will employ you in housekeeping labors just as much as she possibly can; as I believe such employment will be in the highest degree beneficial both to your body and mind. Dr. Gridley says he wishes you to do housework altogether rather than study.
The shirts I shall not want until next vacation, the latter part of April; I did not send them to you because I want them, but that you might have something to sew upon when other work might not be on hand, & that you might learn how to make such articles hereafter when I may want them.
Your compositions I should like very well to see, XX but will not urge you to copy them. It will be more profitable for you to send me one or two Latin sentences composed by yourself in the way I described in my letter. You continue I hope the exercise of writing occasionally those translations.
Almost every one with whom I have spoken since my return has inquired after you. Your mother's many friends feel a very deep interest in your welfare, & are truly solicitous that you may successfully improve your opportunities & secure the happiest results.
Sarah Humphrey is now attending the Academy, which has entered upon a new Term, with very flattering auspices under Rev. Mr. Coleman, aided by a Mr. Andrews.
The weather has been very dull, cloudy or stormy, every day for about a week, excepting last Sabbath, when we enjoyed here some very splendid sights, such as I never witnessed. Perhaps you had similar. The trees, in consequence of a freezing rain on the preceding days were covered, limb, branch, & twig, all over with coatings of ice, in knobs, & in short icicles; & as the sun shone out in great brightness, they presented a most brilliant spectacle, seeming as if they were covered with the purest silver, some of the trees looking like vast chandeliers, with glistening pendants, others XXX as if loaded with sparkling diamonds, while others still appeared as if the diamonds were mingled with the most costly precious stones of blue, & yellow, & green & red, like the amethyst, & topaz, & beryl & sapphire; it was indeed as if we were looking upon the scenery of the new Jerusalem.
I have not yet been to Hadley, but intend to go as soon as it is suitable weather & traveling. -- Give my affectionate regards to all the family.
Very affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Feb 25
Amherst, Feb. 24. 1845.
My Dear Helen,
Your letters, dated Feb. 1st & Feb. 14th, both came duly & were very welcome I assure you. You judged rightly in thinking that it might be pleasant to receive a letter about the time your last arrived; for it arrived on the evening of last Monday, the day of the week corresponding to that on which you dear mother died just a year ago. It was a day of solemn remembrances; in the afternoon Dr. Humphrey invited me to go with him in his sleigh to call on Dr. Woodbridge in Hadley, & I could not very well decline although I had no inclination to go abroad at all. Dr. Woodbridge has been unwell more or less ever since his return from the West last summer. Your letter was on the Piano when I got back, having been brought from the P. Office by Charles Joy. It gratified me to find that you were thinking of your mother, I trust you will think of her often & much; let her image be frequently before you; & endeavor to acquire & exhibit the affectionate, amiable, benevolent, sympathetic spirit which was so eminently hers; think of her as having been received to the presence of the Redeemer; & make this a motive to restrain every tendency in your mind to frivolity or love of pleasure, & especially to any thing low or grovelling; whenever you feel any such tendency, what a help will you find it to think how any such indulgence would appear to your mother now among the pure & holy spirits in Heaven.
The thought of her has not been out of my mind a single day since her death, & when I think of her, I almost always think of you and Ann, & then of little Humphrey & David, and the question is often started, 'shall we be a family all safe in Heaven?' During the last week & yesterday my feelings have often been intense, fear, hope, sorrow, & I trust faith & repentance of sin, mingling more or less. I have endeavored to commend my dearly beloved daughters to the mercy & compassion of the righteous Sovereign who has taken from me my bosom companion & from them a devoted mother. I can never supply her place as a guide & guardian for you; but you can do much, if you live & maintain a right spirit & form a good character, you can do much towards supplying to me her loss as a companion friends & helper. I trust you do not forget that every day's feelings & actions are forming your character; forming it in itself & fixing it as good & lovely or the opposite, & also forming it in the judgment & estimation of others; you cannot spend a week in the family of friends or anywhere without doing something to make character, & also to create reputation. Your "little thinkings" will exert their influence, & if you sometimes feel as if your thinking must all be wrong, do not on that account conclude to think not at all, or to think chiefly about little things; but let it only be a reason to urge you to implore the help of God that he would assist you to hold your mind to the contemplation of such subjects as it is best you should think about & would also give you right thought, & right feelings.
And do not feel backward to express to me all your "little thinkings" & your great ones too. I thank you truly & am made happy for your doing so in your last letter, & your analogies are quite as agreeable to me as your metaphysical question which I can answer best perhaps by referring you to Rev. 10:6. And it may be best to answer your questions in the order of their being deposed (although I do not quite understand how you make so rapid a transition from philosophy to shirt-making); so I add that no buttons are wanted in the bosom of the shirt except the one on the collar if that one is placed as near as possible to the body of the shirt, & as to the wrist-bands I suppose mine should be made just as other folks have theirs.
My health is about the same as when I was at Falmouth; the cold weather has not proved so immediately unfavorable to me as dampness & winds. Our snow has suddenly melted off, & it now seems like spring, but such mild weather will not abide long with us.
As to Amherst news, I think it quite probable you could tell quite as much as I can; things so far as I know are going along after the usual manner. Many of the people are quite interested about getting a rail-road up the valley of the Connecticut river on this side of it, & others are zealous to re-establish a Bank in this place. The barn of Mr. Field of Leverett, the burning of which was mentioned I believe in the paper I sent you, was set on fire by a girl abut 14 years old; it was one of the little girls you used to know, Mr. Smith Dickenson's, who lived where Judge Dickenson now lives. Sarah Humphrey inquires kindly about you, when you write to her, I want you to show your letter first to your Aunt Hooker. -- Miss Lyon came up last Thursday with Mr. Hawkes & wife to visit at Dr. Reed's, & I accepted an invitation to tea & found there Mr. & Mrs. Vail, Mr. & Mrs. Tyler, Mr. Snell, & another gentleman whose name I have forgotten.
Give my love to all the family, & tell Mr. Hooker I shall be very glad to receive a letter from him.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Mar 16
Amherstiae, Octavo (ante) Idus Martii",
Anno Domini MDCCXLV.
Epistolom tuam in latina scriptam die hesterns acepi et perlegi magno cum gaudio. quamquam anni multi nune elapsi sunt, quorum omnem per durationem ego pessaso lingua Latina usus sumaut scribendo aut loquendo, tamen aemulatio quaedam me compellat exemplum tuum bonum et felix imitace.
Sed quid dicam? - Primo, gratiae a nobis ad Deum sempiternum debentur pro beneficiis ejus tam multis et tam magnis quae recipimus quotidie, et maxime pro salute in Christo quam evangelium divineum omnibus profert sine precunis oc sine pretio; felicitatem aeternam Pater noster in coelo paravit et cuique probo Filu" ejus discipolo dabit in die ultime in quo ex quaque parte extrema terrae et viventes et mortui ad judicium valde tremendum atque augustum congregabuntur.
Secondo, me et te decet in memoria constanter retinere, ut amicitia et benignitas a consanguineis et affinibus matiis tuae beatae nos in perpetuum obligaverunt ad bona officia; idcirco, nune iterum, quod antehae dixi, vice alia urgere volo in cogitationes tuas et conscientiam, scilicet XXXXX tuum erga omnes in domo in qua frueris vita munus, quod certe XXX no mado petulantiam omneur et molestiam vetat sed etiam comitatem et obsequium postulat. Si amicos haberes, mores boni et amabiles colendi sunt tibi. Quodcanque facias, sit lex benevolentiae regula actionis, ita vinens, no inutilite, vives. Postremo, verbis Romanis tantum utar ulterius dum XXXXXX comprobem tuam curaur auctam in chirographo; perge qua recenter incepisti; cura attenta elegantiam in tempore non longe efficiet.
March 16th, 1845
My Dear Helen,
I hope you will not submit my Latin to Mr. Coffin's inspection; he will not look upon it with so much favor as he did upon yours. I wrote it immediately the day after receiving your letter, & did not expect a whole week would elapse before I could finish. My time has been fully occupied from morning to night; having two recitations nearly every day & several items of extra business. Last night I preached for Mr. Colton in the Academy; the room was crowded full & some were obliged to go away because they could not get in: the meeting was solemn; several persons have recently become anxious for their souls; Elizabeth Parsons, Esther Cutler, a Miss Linnell, & some others think they have experienced religion. I hope they will not become thoughtless & gay again. It pains me most deeply to think how many cases there are of young persons, who for a few months give promise of being religious & thus excite the hopes of pious parents & friends only to fill their hearts with the most bitter disappointment. Mr. Tyler write from Pittsfield to his brother that there is deep religious feeling among the young Ladies in the Institute, Miss Frary (I believe that is her name) from Amherst professes to have received her Saviour in repentance and faith. My Dear child, I think much about you at this time. Will you continue to be estranged from God?
I have not heard from Ann for many days, I want to hear very much. I had a letter last week from Aunt Maria; she is well, & Grandpa Fiske, & all the folks there excepting cousin Mary, who has been ill all winter. Cousin Alonzo has a little daughter to be called Maria. Cousin Henry is going to Worcester to work in tin.
I have been reading over some of your dear mother's letters, which Aunt Vinal & the Miss Scholfields were good enough to give me; I have arranged them in order, & shall keep them for you & Ann. -- I want you to ask Aunt Hooker, if she will not let me have the letters your Ma wrote to her, to be arranged & kept for the same purpose; I mean such of them as Aunt Hooker shall think it proper to preserve.
Give my love to all, & tell Uncle Hooker I shall be very glad to receive a letter from him informing me all about Falmouth, & about a young Miss that is boarding in his family. I must now bid you good bye - I hope you will keep up the correspondence in Latin.
Very affectionately your Father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth
Amherst, May 19th (Mond. Morning). 1845.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter arrived last Friday. I arrived here just the Saturday preceding. On account of the storm on Thursday, the day after my leaving Charlestown, I did not start for Amherst until Friday. I reached Worcester in season to dine at the hotel, & then carry a bundle to Henry whom I saw at Mr. Russell's shop hammering away cheerily at a tin-pin. After calling at the Antiquarian house, & the bookstore, I "started on", & came by Leicester to Spencer, where I had to sleep in the same room, not in the same bed, with a fellow who snored all night most admirably loud, & deprived me of most of my sleep. I rode down the work yard about the middle of the afternoon next day; everything looked beautifully about the field & the shrubbery & trees; but there was no welcome outcry of familiar voices "Pa is come". All such joys are now lost to me; but, my dear Helen, if you will indeed be a child of God, & improve your mind & heart as you may, your father will not be without joys, if our lives are spared.
As I was leading home the horse, who really looked badly (in consequence of his cough I think; I have been up since to inquire about him; he is well, & looks much better), Mr. Colton way-laid me, & I could not escape attempting to preach the next evening. The Hall was crowded; it was very hot; & I was greatly wearied; but I do not know that I was injured, although by the sudden changes of temperature between that time & the present I have caught slight cold. The religious interest still continues in some degree.
Mrs. Terry is here & last evening inquired respecting you with much affection. Your lawn dress I find, & also your parasol, I intend to send them by Judge Dickenson, who is going to Boston tomorrow I believe.
As to the lessons in drawing, you may take them, if you will attend carefully & thoroughly to drawing. instead of merely wasting your time in coloring. I shall be very glad to have you acquire the ability to sketch scenery & natural object; you might in that way be useful & furnish also amusement to yourself & others that would be innocent & cheerful.
I hope your visit to Charlestown & Weston has not dissipated your serious thoughts & resolutions. Your only safety is in nearness to the throne of grace, & in child-like reliance on the teaching & guidance of your Saviour. -- Let me hear from you as often as once in two weeks; and do not wait for me to reply regularly.
My affectionate regards to all the family.
Your still solicitous & loving father
Addressed: For Miss Helen M. Fiske, & Miss Ann E. Hooker.
Boston, Sept. 1, 1845
My Dear Helen & Ann,
Please to accept these Drawing Cards & use them if your Teacher shall approve. Perhaps you will derive benefit from the accompanying Directions.
We reached Charlestown safely, & found Uncle & Aunt better. To day I leave for Weston & Amherst.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sep 17
Amherst, Sept. 16, 1845.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter dated Sep. 6th arrived in due season, & when I received it, I hoped to answer it soon. It is unnecessary to tell you the reason that so many days have elapsed before my writing, since you know all about the "beginning" of a College year; not exactly all neither, but enough to understand that I have had but little leisure for personal affairs.
Probably you have heard from Charlestown respecting the journey of Ann & myself from Falmouth to Boston, & surely I am glad in every account that we did not stop to go in the "free boat". When we arrived at Wood's Hole, the boat for the day had not arrived; & Mr. Swift with his daughters was intending to sail in a Packet, which they had beckoned in to the Wharf; so I told our Stageman to drive us down to that Wharf, & we would also go in the packet; but lo! the Packet could not get up to the Wharf, on account of wind & tide; we all then of course moved back to the steam-boat wharf, & began to fear that the boat would not come in season for us to reach the cars in New Bedford; but at length the Massachusetts appeared in sight, & soon rode in & took us off, striding across the Bay swifter than the wind could carry any of the Packets. Ann was not sick at all. We waited at the Depot nearly or quite an hour for the train to start; a cab took us to Brattle-street, & the Hourly conveyed us to No. 15, Washington Street, Charlestown, where we were welcomed by Aunt & Uncle much improved in his health, & by Miss Abby Waterman; Martha was gone to Andover. I did not go out to Weston until Monday afternoon; Ann & I made a great waving of white flags as the cars moved up the track by Uncle's house. Dear child, I felt sadly to part from her, as we both did to leave you. But it is an unspeakable comfort to me to think how kindly God in his providence has thus far secured, for you both, such an affectionate interest in the hearts of friends; & I do most ardently hope that neither of you will be insensible or ungrateful towards the friends who so cheerfully have made sacrifices in order to promote your happiness & your highest welfare. Indeed it is one of the greatest earthly consolations I have in my present lot, that I see, or think I see, that both of you do in some measure realize your obligations, & that you do endeavor to do right, to improve your characters, & seek the comfort & happiness of these friends. Were I obliged to see evidence of the opposite disposition, my visit to you & Ann would only fill me with agony of distress, instead of satisfaction.
On Wednesday morning, after the rain was over, Aunt Maria & I rode over to Woburn in Uncle Sewall's chaise with Mr. Warren's horse. Mrs. Bennett seemed better than she was at Commencement. I had intended to go by rail-road from Woburn to Andover, but was too late for the cars on that day, & concluded to give up the design. On Thursday we returned, but we did not start early enough, the night was cloudy, & we had a late, slow, dark & unpleasant ride home; but arrived safely, & found a great company in Aunt Maria's little back room, shelling beams, which Uncle Sewall was to take to market the next day. Grandpa Fiske I found & left very well; on Friday, he caught six pigeons. On Saturday morning, Uncle Sewall carried me, in the covered wagon, to the Depot in Newton, where I took the cars, about eight O'clock, for Palmer, whence I came here by Stage crowded full, reaching home, about 3 O'clock. It was not home, however, after all, as I have just said in my letter to Ann; nor would it be home, even if you & Ann were with me, without your dear mother. It fills me with sadness, whenever I return to the house after even a little absence. But then I think, soon, of the "house not made with hands", where your mother dwells with the spirits of the just made perfect, & where I cherish the fond hope of meeting her, & all the beloved children.
I trust you are getting on well & doing right as to all your school matters. A deportment which wins esteem & love is more truly valuable than mere intellectual progress; some persons who are very deficient in the former pride themselves much for the latter, & such are in constant danger of injuring themselves & alienating the hearts of others from them, by vainly & foolishly betraying their sense of their imagined superiority.
Give my love to Uncle Hooker, Aunt & all. My letters are not written for publication, but I think it is proper that you should give them (when they come) to your Aunt that she may read them if she would please to. Tell Uncle Hooker that I should like to receive not merely some of his sermon-paper, but also on it one of Simon's discourses.
Very affectionately, your father, N.W. Fiske
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Oct 6
Amherst, Oct. 5th. 1845
My Dear Helen,
I have received your letter dated Oct. 2nd, without any intimation as to the year, whether it was written in 1844, or 56; an omission which is always a blemish, but which you seem to think an excellence, as I infer from your late practice.
It always affords me pleasure to receive your letters even short ones, & you must not wait to receive regular replies from me. Any time is at present all occupied, although I am not at all satisfied with any thing I accomplish.
The brown Cashmere I do not wish to have used at present. But I have written to Aunt Vinal, & requested her to procure for you a shawl, or such other article of outside dress as she may think is best for you, & to send it to you by the first opportunity; that is, if she should think that you ought to have some article of the kind. I wish you to have whatever is necessary to your health & best comfort, so far as my means will allow.
Give my love to all the family & excuse me for being so short in this letter, as I could not otherwise answer as promptly as you wish.
Very affectionately your father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Nov 14
Amherst, Nov. 13. 1845.
My Dear Helen,
I am sensible that I have for some time been in debt to you for a letter; & I have been more than once sorry in thinking that another day had passed without my finding time to write. You do not doubt, however, that the reason is my being greatly occupied. How I have been occupied perhaps you do not imagine. Chiefly it has been in manual labor, out of doors; I mean, it is such labor that has constituted the special addition to my usual labors. The land west of the house lot has required much attention in draining, the dry weather being favorable for such work, I felt it a duty to embrace the opportunity. The fences about the house you know have long been tumbling over; they at last became so bad, that the cows & the boys both despised them & daily made them worse, till I was compelled to do something with them; & then when I looked for carpenters to do the work, lo! not one could be found to do it, all were so busy. So, Mr. Cooley & myself have done the work; pulling down, & building again the fence from the house to Mr. Nelson's, also from the road down to the barn, & likewise west of the garden, from the house to Mr. Hitchcock's line. Nearly every nail has been driven by myself, much of the sawing, & some of the digging I have done. Thus you see I have been farmer & carpenter. Bishop Tyler goes by every day & seeing me at work, says "I shall have you made President of the Working Society".
I have felt it important to improve the time as such as possible, expecting that the cold weather would soon hinder further operations. We have made homely fences, but they will last a number of years; & although homely, & not yet finished, they make the premises look much pleasanter. But it is not & will not be, as my once pleasant home was.
And it would not be pleasant for you to live here at present, if I could arrange with the family for your board & accommodation otherwise.
You are greatly privileged, my dear child, & I want you to realize it, in finding such a home as you have with Aunt Hooker. I hope you will not think of wishing any change at present, if she is willing that you should remain with her. The idea of being called upon to look about for some new place for you this winter would fill me with painful solicitude. If you cherish such feelings as I think you ought, & will make such efforts as I am sure you can, you may be of great service to your Aunt during Ann's absence this winter, & contribute much to her happiness & to Uncle Hooker's.
I expect to see you in December; but I do not expect to leave Amherst until a week or perhaps two weeks after thanksgiving; & I hope it will prove convenient for Mrs. Hooker to plan her journey with you to Boston so that you shall go up about the time of my going down.
The Amherst news is not much as you intimate. I have not sent you the paper regularly, because I do not think it always the best thing for you, & I know you have reading enough of a better sort.
The books you speak of, I have not read; indeed you must infer from the first part of my letter, that I have not lately been reading or studying over much.
I sent you a Catalogue of College, the other day. I will send one of the sermons you spoke of, if I can find it.
I had a letter from Mr. Perkins a few days since, he sends love to you. Moses you know is married; he is also ordained as a deacon (Episcopal) & preaches; he has a little daughter. He now supports himself. Mr. P. has selected another youth, for my Newtonian son; his name is Jonas, & I hope he will prove a source of comfort to me as Moses has done.
Give my love to all the family. Write to me without waiting for answers. Perhaps in your next, you will tell me when Mrs. Hooker expects to visit Boston & Charlestown.
Very affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Feb 7
Amherst, Feb. 5. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
I did indeed expect a letter from you long before it came, & began to feel apprehensive that you were sick or that some accident had befallen some of you. A letter from Ann, in which she spoke of one from you, had, however, afforded me some relief.
You have probably heard from Charlestown that I arrived here safely. The day was rainy, as you may recollect, but it was not cold, & I suffered no inconvenience. The students are mostly returned & so far as I know, the Affairs of College are quiet.
Mr. Joy has not been here at all since I returned, & now Mrs. Joy is also at N. York; the family will remove, I suppose, by the first of April, & then Mrs. Dwight will take the house. She has two daughters, one about your age, I believe. She expects to have several students as her boarders. I hope I shall find the change more agreeable than it looks in prospect now.
I am sorry that Mr. Coffin is thrown out of employment, & hope he will find some place in which he may labor successfully. But the lady engaged for the summer can, I suppose, carry on her school even if there should be no preceptor, & as you have been so much pleased with her, I think it very likely that when the Spring comes, you will be desirous to go to her school again.
Mrs. Tyler has seen Mrs. Bent in reference to the subject you mention from Aunt Hooker. She says Mrs. Bent feels a delicacy in doing any thing that may look like dictating to others what to give, but Mrs. Tyler thinks articles such as come under the description of night-clothes would be acceptable & that Mrs. B. will need a spring-dress ere long & therefore such an article would be acceptable. I also inferred from the remarks, that if the people of Falmouth should prefer to send their gift, in the form of money, it would be equally acceptable. I have not seen Mrs. B. myself, but understand she is as well as she has been for some months. She does not go out of the house.
I suppose you are doing lots of housework to help Aunt Hooker this winter. Whatever you can learn by practice may be worth a great deal more than any thing you can acquire by the brain. You may perhaps be useful to Aunt H. also by sewing for her.
You can also study some, if you are disposed to do it. I trust you will not indulge the habit of merely desultory reading; catching up a book & reading a little in it here & a little there, & then throwing it down for something else. Such reading is almost worse than idleness. I would ask Aunt H's advice as to what books to read, & when you begin one read it regularly, in course & carefully.
And especially I would urge you to select, with your Aunt's or Uncle's advice, some good book to read on the Sabbath, & make it a matter of conscience to read only that & the Bible; unless you would choose some Sabbaths to read in the Bible only. Being where a religious paper, or perhaps several, may be lying upon the table, will be very apt to lead one to spend time in reading the columns which are better suited for the week-day, than for the sabbath. And I cannot help saying, that it was painful to my feelings to notice last winter that the paper seemed to be preferred to the Bible even on the Sabbath.
In your next letter, I wish you to give me the story about Washington when a boy resolving not to tell a lie etc. Extract it from the Parlor Annual for Nov. 1844; I saw it at Uncle Hooker's. I thank you to give it just as it is there.
Give my love to all, & write soon. I am now in great haste.
Very affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Feb 27
Amherst, Feb. 23. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
I thank you for the long letter & for the extract contained in it. The story is indeed "hacknied" (hackneyed); but I had the impression that there was, in the book I mentioned, some voucher for its authenticity; which however I do not find by your extract to be the case. Your imaginary reasons for my wishing you to copy it are none of them the real; although, I think there can be no doubt that it may be useful to you to be reminded of the importance & the praiseworthiness of being perfectly frank, full, & explicit in giving account of errors mistakes or misconduct, to your guardians or teachers or others to whom there is any occasion ever to speak of them. I wanted the narrative as an illustration in one of my lectures. It would have been more convenient for me, had you put the narrative wholly on the separate half-sheet, & thus kept it distinct from your letter, from which it cannot now be divided.
In reference to the bundle, box or package, for Mrs. Bent, perhaps it will be best to direct it to me. What way to send it, I cannot point out. Perhaps it will be best to direct it to Rev. William Tyler. Your Uncle Hooker can tell what is best as to the whole matter. Probably if the package could be conveyed to Charlestown, Aunt Vinal would cheerfully take charge of it till we could send for it, or she should find some good opportunity to forward it.
26th. I was not able to finish this letter on the day I began to write, & have been hindered from proceeding till now. Meantime yours of the 22nd has arrived & was very welcome. I did indeed, as I opened it, fear that some evil tidings might be contained, & you did well to remove that fear by the first sentence.
I am glad to know something respecting your occupations. The study of Watts will I trust be useful to you; it is an excellent book. In the Music, I hope that while you are regular in practicing, you will be careful to endeavor constantly to improve; do you not sing also? The smallness of the pages in your drawing-book compared with those of the Instruction-book need not occasion you much trouble, as you are not obliged to put the whole number of figures in to one page; there is however, an advantage to be derived from drawing in a size (or more properly, on a scale) differing from that of the pattern, often one has sufficiently practiced more exact copying. I trust that in the use of the needle, you will seek to render service to your Aunt, & perhaps your circumstances will now allow you to do some charity work besides what you may do while in the meetings of the "Circle". You give no account of house-work; I trust you are striving to learn something in that line. Considerable time seems to be employed in "sowing"; you do not mention whether you sow wheat, or tares, or chaff; I hope it is XXXX good grain of some sort. The wild oats have been all sown before now, you think, I hope so. And may my dear child never sow to the wind, to reap the whirlwind. May she not sow any more "to the flesh", of that to reap corruption. But are you sowing to the Spirit? Do you persevere in striving to know & do the will of your Father in Heaven? You avow a cheerful purpose to abide in submission to what your earthly father thinks best for you? Are you truly submissive & obedient to the commands of your Saviour? Nothing will be really safe or really right with you, unless you do sincerely & heartily take the guidance which he offers in his word & by his Spirit. You can not find peace in death, as your dear mother did, by feeling yourself to be in his arms, in any other way. Her portrait is now by my right hand, & she seems to be looking down upon me & upon this paper, & though dead she yet speaketh, to encourage & urge me & you to "haste the coming of the Lord" -- to lay up our treasure where she is. My dear Helen, my heart is often oppressed, when I think of you & your sister & myself & the departed mother & sons, they I trust are in heaven, washed in the blood of the Lamb, joining in the worship of the redeemed; they are happy & holy; there is nothing gloomy or oppressive in thinking of them as they are; but their relation to us, & the "gloomy doubts" as to what our end may be, the fears that it will never be a "family all saved", these are the things that make me often weep here in my alone chamber.
You have wished me to say something as to plans for you for the future. I know not what to say. You know the peculiar reasons I have to fear that it would not be most conducive to your real good for you to attempt the experiment of a public boarding-school. I cannot wish Mrs. Hooker to make sacrifices of any kind, in order to furnish you with a home any longer; I cannot doubt that you truly feel your great obligations to her & your cousins. I have sometimes felt a hope that it would prove convenient & happy on all sides, for you & for them, to continue your residence with them into the summer. You will be sixteen next October; would should you think of going in the fall to South Hadley? Perhaps it will be a good plan for you to converse freely & fully with your Aunt on the subject. And bear in mind you have no better friend than she in the world; & you have no one so able to advise & help you & be truly useful to you. You can if you please show her this letter. -- Give her & Uncle H. & the cousins my best love. And I shall be glad to hear again, no matter how soon, or how often.
Affectionately N.W. Fiske
P.S. My health has been poor for a number of days; I have a bad cough; but I hope it will soon be better. This is the day of the Annual fast for Colleges. We had a very solemn meeting in the morning. The day was so cold, & the wind high, & snow blowing, that I felt it unsafe to go out this afternoon. I hope Christians though the land are praying for the Youth in our Seminaries.
Amherst, Apr. 2nd, 1846.
My Dear Helen,
I have received both your letters; the last enclosing ten dollars for Mrs. Bent, which sum with four added to it, I have delivered to her. She wished me to express her thanks to Mrs. Hooker & through her to the donors, & to say that the money came just in the very time of need, & that she did not expect to receive so much after learning that Mrs. Woodbury needed their charity.
I only write now to say the above, & to add that I have been so much pressed with labor, & being not well, that I have not been able to write to you. I shall write more fully next week, I intend to, i.e. - On the subject you mention, I assure you, my dear child, I enter into your feelings: I have no fixed purposes, except to seek your highest good, according to all the light of help I can get. In mean time, I want to have you converse freely with your Aunt, & show her my letter; I should think you had not done it, when you wrote to me. - I have not obtained yet a catalogue of the Mt. Holyoke Seminary.
Mrs. Judge Dickenson was buried last Saturday. At his request, I performed the funeral services. Eliza feels the death of her mother very deeply. - Mr. & Mrs. Thurston left here yesterday morning for Boston, XX expecting to find their daughter (Sarah) Mrs. Osgood, a corpse.
Give my love to Uncle & Aunt H. & the cousins. Let Mr. H. take Mr. Nash's circular, & give it to somebody, who want to send a son to a first rate school.
Affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS
Amherst, Apr. 6. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
You have doubtless received my last note with Mr. Nash's circular. My health is about as when I wrote; but not good. I am deeply interested in the subject on which you have requested me to express more fully my feelings and intentions. As I have already told you, I have not laid down any arbitrary plan, nor have I formed any fixed purpose except to seek your good. I wish to see you happy. I wish to see you improving in health, in mind, & in heart. I desire to thank God, that I have some evidence that you have been thus improving.
And, my dear child, you ought not to think that I have no confidence in your character or your good intentions, if I am still in doubt whether it will be most for your good to go to a public boarding-school. What I witnessed in your sickness last winter showed me that although your physical system is in a much better state than it was two years ago, it is still not so well established as to prepare you fully to meet the dangers to which the peculiar excitements of a public school will expose you. But notwithstanding all my fears, I think that, if after conversing fully with your Aunt, it shall seem desirable to make some change, I must have you go to some such school; as I do not know any private family where I can find you a place to your advantage.
I have lately been thinking of XXX Ipswich where Mr. & Mr. Cowles have the charge. She, you know, was Miss Caldwell, of whom your dear mother had a very high opinion. I do not see how it will be possible however to get ready for the term just about to open. I am doubtful, whether, unless the most urgent necessity requires, I can leave Amherst during the coming vacation.
How will it suit, to attend the school at Falmouth for a quarter or a little more, & then at the close of the summer, go with cousin Ann to some public school?
I wish you to mention to Aunt H. the things contained in this letter, to show it to her, perhaps, will be best. Then write me & tell me all your thoughts & hers also. I hope you will be able to form a plan, which I can heartily approve, or that your communication after you have conversed etc. will enable me to decide with some satisfaction in my own mind. You will give my love to all, & ask your Aunt to write to me on this subject.
Very affectionately your father,
You will have noticed by the Recorder that we have enjoyed an interesting revival of religion in College. A number of the students are entertaining hopes, feelings as if they had become new creatures in Christ Jesus. I fear that some who have been awakened are losing their serious impressions. Only a very few indeed have been wholly unaffected; indeed not more than two or three in all College. But, no doubt, some of the cases will be then melancholy ones, so strikingly represented by the early cloud & morning dew.
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Apr 30
Amherst, Apr. 30. 1846
My Dear child,
I have just received your letter, & have now but a few minutes before the mail closes. In relation to South Hadley, I can only say that I have written to Miss Lyon to inquire whether you can be received next year, & have requested her to send me a Catalogue, which I will forward to you.
As to your Latin, I thought I had written to you. What I intended to say was that it would perhaps be too much trouble to your teacher to hear you separately; & that if you went on with the class, beginning back, you should by all means let your Aunt & Ann know that you had been reading over the same the past winter. I am indifferent which you do; follow your Aunt's advice, in reference to it.
You may study Botany, if you please; it will be desirable to study it with Ann.
I think you will do well to attend somewhat to Algebra, perhaps one day to Algebra, & the next to Philosophy; two or three lessons in each in a week.
Mrs. Bent has moved from the Smith house up onto the village, & Pauline is coming home to keep house for her.
My health is a little better. Love to all,
In great haste, your affectionate father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske
[June 1846] Charlestown, Sat. Morn.
My dear Helen,
You must accept a note of two or three lines only. I have just returned from Weston, where I found all well, excepting cousin Martha, who was slightly ill.
Aunt Hooker will write & enclose this note. In answer to your new inquiry about studies, I will only say, that I do not think it best for you to study the "Philosophy" the present term at all. But perhaps the subject will be better understood, in all its bearings, when Aunt Hooker has returned to Falmouth; so that, if she shall then think it be a good arrangement, I shall give my consent. Mean time, pursue your Latin, History, & Botany. - & if you have time not otherwise occupied, give more attention to music, until she returns.
Would you not like to get one proposition a day in Geometry? I believe that would be better for you, now, than the Philosophy.
I shall return to Amherst on Monday; you will write to me soon.
Very affectionately your Father,
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, June 2
Amherst, June 1st 1846.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter dated May 18th arrived in season. Not being able to write to you, I forwarded a catalogue of the S. Hadley School; by which you may learn what qualifications are requisite for admission there. I have received a line (only a line i.e. a very short letter) from Miss Lyon, in which she says that her number is full for next year, but perhaps there may be a vacancy & failure, & that I need not consider the application for you entirely hopeless, & adds that she expects soon to be in Amherst & will then perhaps know more certainly.
Should we be disappointed in this, I cannot doubt that Providence will open some way & place for you, so that with a docile spirit & an effort to improve, you will both be happy & make progress in mental discipline & manners. I think it would be ungrateful to God for his past kindness in providing for your good since your mother died, if either you or I should be unwilling to trust him for the future, or should be impatient to know, longer before hand than he pleases, what he has in store for us. His care & the blessings of his grace you need above all things else, & nothing would do more to cheer me in all the loneliness which I often feel than to have some good evidence that my dear child was walking in the truth as a child of God & disciple of Christ.
The subject of your studies I am willing to leave wholly to be decided by your teacher & your Aunt. I am sorry to receive such an account of your feelings in relation to scanning in Virgil; but I do not doubt there has been a change in them before this time. Surely you will find it a very agreeable exercise; & very pleasant to scan aloud; it will aid you very much in fixing in your mind the proper accentuation of Latin words. It is also easy; I shall be greatly filled with wonderment, if you shall not be able, after a little practice by the rules, to scan just as fast as you can pronounce.
If you study Botany, I hope you will keep an Herbarium, not putting into it every weed that grows, but collecting choice flowers, & writing out a scientific description of each - adding to it any extract (fine in sentiment or language that you may meet with or remember, or sometimes a passage composed by yourself, in which there is a happy allusion to the flower.
The drawing you will carry on; not that you may gain a mere frivolous accomplishment, but that, if circumstances hereafter should call for it, you may be of service to your father, or some one in consequence of professing skill in the art.
And the Music, my child, you will not neglect, will you? You know how much I want to have learn to play properly & to sing. Do you not wish also to play upon the organ?
When at Charlestown I did want to see you & I now want to see you, but it is impossible for me to conjecture now when I shall enjoy the pleasure. My health has not been so good since I returned here; I brought with me a cold taken from the east winds that prevailed all the while I was absent, & I have been hurried with work at the same time. Preaching on Thursday evening of last week & yesterday & last night the care of the monthly concert, besides all the ordinary business. I feel to day as well as I would expect, but last night I had very little sleep.
You ask me about arrangements etc. I do not know that there is any thing new to tell you. The fences about the house are all changed, & when they are whitewashed as I intend will look I think tolerably well. The shrubbery is the same, only thinned out, so as to look better. Mrs. Dwight occupies the same parts of the house that Mrs. Joy did; she makes a parlor of the chamber over the sitting room; it is newly papered & is handsome. She has the garden; but I have been obliged to take care of it, she being a "widow-woman"; perhaps I shall like this as well, as otherwise, on the whole, since I can keep up such an arrangement in the garden as I please. The grass about us looks now most beautifully, a rich green, & very thick & forward. I never saw the meadow west of the house look so handsome before; I think it is partly owing to what I have done to it, since purchasing it, by draining & manuring. Uncle Vinal gave me a yellow-rose, which is yet alive, & some dahlias several of which have started finely. My study & library room are as formerly, only growing more dirty & full of rubbish; I want you or Ann here a fortnight to help "clean up". Have I told you of the Attic I have made? It is right over my study; & I can get into it from the library room; it is very convenient for my maps, papers, etc. When I mention, that Mrs. D. keeps a pig, & that Sambo brings up her wood, I have about finished my tale as well as my paper. Love, Love to all
Affectionately your Father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, June 23
Amherst June 22nd 1846
My Dear Helen,
It is unnecessary to attempt to describe to you how I have been busy all the while since your letter of the 2nd instant arrived. But the allusion to being busied brings me easily to speak on the subject of anticipating the future, on which you introduce a speculation, & ask my opinion; the substance of my judgment, experience, & advice, may be included in a brief maxim; be diligent in discharging present duties, & there will be little danger of indulging anticipations which the future when it comes will disappoint.
I have received a note from Miss Lyon, in which she says she will provide somehow for your entrance, provided you are suitably qualified. She has not been at Amherst, but Miss Whitman is here attending the Lectures of Dr. Hitchcock & Profs. Shepard & Snells. With her I have conversed. She apprehends that you are rather young, & thinks that, if you should wait another year, making yourself more perfect in Arithmetic, & other preparatory studies, & especially attending to your health, & some of the lighter objects like painting & music, it would probably be better for you. She wished me to say to you that they think it important that the young ladies should come there quite familiar with Colburn's Arithmetic, & also Admas, & that in examining, the teachers give questions from the books, & also sums to be performed without looking at the books for direction or help.
They will be kind toward you, I do not doubt, & I have considerable confidence that your examination will not exclude you from the school. You will be allowed to put out your washing, if you choose, although Miss Whitman says it will be best for you to do some of it yourself, at the very beginning, & perhaps after a while you will prefer to do the whole.
In relation to your attention to drawing this summer, I did not intend to enjoin it.
I have received a very brief letter from Ann; poor child, she find it a hard test to write a letter; I hope you write to her, & will endeavor to encourage her in the business.
That trouble-making box! no matter; thankful may we all be for its safe arrival. Some Stage-driver picked it up at the Depot & took it directly to Mrs. Bent. I did not speak to her, lest I should occasion her uneasiness, but kept inquiring of the Baggage-carrier, -- not imagining that any body else would take it.
My health has not been very good for some days, indeed not since I was so unwell in the spring early.
You must allow me to close here, requesting you to give my love to all the family.
Affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Jul 10
Amherst July 10.1846.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter written on the 4th has been received. I was expecting one for some days. You say it would have been longer had it been for the Pic-Nic. I am pleased always to have a full letter, but in this case, I should have been very sorry to have gained a fuller letter at the cost of your staying at home on that occasion.
The little excursion which Uncle Hooker, it seems from your account of the matter, thought it proper & expedient for the whole family to make, was well calculated I should judge to promote the health & happiness of all. And it seems very unaccountable to me that you should not have been really desirous to share in the recreation. But, however that may be, if you had not cheerfully consented to go, after the conversation which you mention, you would have inflicted a wound on your own peace of mind, & would have committed a deed of rude unkindness towards the whole family, either of which would have been a cause of lasting sorrow & shame. And, my dear child, since you have asked me to tell you what is my view of the matter, I will deal frankly with you. That part of your letter which described your feelings & remarks, I am very glad you wrote; it is your duty, & it is wisdom to communicate freely & with exact accuracy, a statement of your difficulties & trials. It is only by so doing that you can have the benefit of your father's sympathy & advice; it is only by so doing that you can be saved from going far astray sometimes under the influence of circumstances & momentary excitements.
I have just remarked that your unwillingness to join in the excursion seems unaccountable. I account for it, however, by supposing that your solicitude to advance in study, especially your anxiety in looking forward to the examination at South Hadley, has led you to the feeling that you must devote every hour to study - & that under this feeling you had actually been studying in such a way & degree as somewhat to overtask your nervous system, & the effect of this was only to render that feeling more fixed & predominant; & the very fact that you found that unwillingness to exist should have made you sensible that you needed some relaxation. -- And when you saw that it was a part of the plan of your Aunt & Uncle to take the whole family, how much better would it have been, to have had thoughts like the following, & have expressed them as soon as the subject was mentioned -- 'Why I had been planning "to have a beautiful time for my ciphering" (these are your words), but I believe, after all, I shall get along the better with "my ciphering" in the end, if I take the ride with you to day" - Such a turn would have saved all that trouble which you felt yourself, & that "feminine expedient for supporting life." But I am afraid that the trouble you felt is not the whole evil. From your manner of writing, I am very apprehensive that what you said at that time to your Aunt was wrong both in substance & in manner. I beg you to look the matter all over, & consider whether you were not unduly chafed in your feelings because a plan of another person crossed your own private plan. Now, my child, you have long been aware, that to be unduly bent upon your own way in matters where the wishes of others ought to sway you, has been your weakness, & been the source of your sorrows. Your statement impresses me with an apprehension that such was the case in this instance, & that your language & spirit may have been such that you will not be happy until you have seen that you were out of the right way, & have suitably signified your sense of it to your Aunt. Do not think, my dear Helen, that I am blaming you in severity; I only express my fears, & urge you, in the earnestness of my love for you, to examine well. Perhaps I do not know all about it, & I do not care to ask from Aunt Hooker. I shall only add on this subject, that there is a view which you certainly seem not to have taken, & which is a very important one & which I am very sorry did not occur to you at the time, & viz. Your not going must be, it could not but be, an almost entire destruction of all the pleasure of going, both to your Aunt & the whole family.
My sheet is nearly filled & my time gone. You ask, whether I told you what Miss Whitman said, in order to dissuade you from going to S.H.. I reply, that it was not precisely for that object; I told you, partly because she evidently wished & expected that I should, & partly because it is my conviction, that if you can be happy & contented in some situation where there is less stimulus to intellectual effort for a year longer before going there it will be a well for you. Certainly, I did not tell you what she said, in order to have you push yourself by study with a feverish solicitude, & into a condition like that which you have before had from the state of your nervous system. And you must not, at any rate, so enter into study, as to bring on a return of any thing like it. And I beg you to ask your Aunt affectionately, whether she sees or thinks that you are in danger of attempting too much; & follow at once her advice in the matter. -- Give my love to all the family, including cousin Martha. If Aunt Hooker is able & can get time, I shall be glad to hear from her. Write yourself as soon as possible.
Aff. your father.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Aug 21
Amherst, Thursday, July 20.1846
My dear Helen,
Very glad was I on arriving here last night to find your letter waiting to welcome me. Your account of the "Excursion to Gay-Head" was intensely interesting. I understood, before the Packet left the wharf, that it was very doubtful whether she could reach the desired spot with wind & tide against her, & altho' she sailed away from shore so beautifully & with so many glad fares on board, I felt no regret at not being in the party except as I wished I could have contributed something to their happiness.
I rode in Mr. Jenkins's carriage to the Reading-Room, where I spent some time in looking over the Papers & conversing with Capt. Swift the elder; after which I walked to Uncle Hooker's, & parked my budget, & read your compositions, among which I was pleased to find one that was not wholly a "tale of the imagination"; pretty soon it was time to take the "lunch", & surely I am thankful that I could receive at a moment's notice, from Mary's hands, that delicious bowl of bread & milk, instead of having to cruise over the Sound & clamber up & down the rocks to get a spoonful of "chowder" among mosquitoes & bugs. Punctually at eleven the boy came with "Accommodation" & took me to Wood's Hole, where we arrived perhaps an hour before the Massachusetts came in; meanwhile I was sitting on the sunny & leeward side of the windmill, enjoying the beautiful water prospect before me & probably looked more than once upon your ship, if she was in sight; I did indeed think of you repeatedly & searched a little for the sloop "Swift", but soon gave up the effort as I found that if she was not out of sight I could not distinguish her from others in the sound. After going on board the steamboat, I lost all the pleasure of looking about, because Mr. Spofford, good man, got hold of me immediately & occupied me with questions (all most kind & friendly, although not a little wearisome), until we were near New Bedford; very kindly & politely he relieved me of the care of getting a coach, engaging one to take us immediately to Mr. Holmes's, where I found a rocking chair a great comfort. I saw no one but Mr. Holmes, who brought in a fine apple pie with crackers & cheese, of which I ate, after he had assured me it would remove a little nausea that I felt after leaving the boat, & I found him in this particular a true prophet. During the ride in the cars I dozed with much satisfaction. Ann was watching for me in the street, & all were glad to hear from Falmouth, & especially to learn that Ann Hooker was so much better. On Thursday Ann accompanied me to Weston, expecting to start on Friday morning for Amherst. But the weather was exceedingly warm, & I found myself quite wearied out; & concluded that it would hardly be wise to encounter the fatigue of riding so far without a little rest. Monday morning, the horse need some shoes & had some sores on his neck, & we delayed until Tuesday morning, when Aunt Maria fitted us off very early, & the weather was almost uncomfortably cold. We came by Princeton to Barre where we passed the night with the Rev. Mr. Bullard, who was formerly a Tutor. Just as we left there yesterday morning, we passed by a concourse of men & women who had gathered around a spot by the road-side where a waggon had been upset by the horse running away & a man & woman thrown out into a ditch over some stones & I feared sadly hurt, although the degree of injury was not then known; the poor sufferers were lying there as we came by. We reached our house about 3 1/2 O'clock, without accident, except that the tire of one of the fore-wheels once got nearly off the fellies, & I was obliged to stop in the middle of the road & take out the horse & then go & find hammer & nails & fix it so as to hold on "for the 'casion".
Mrs. Dwight was glad to see us, having now in the family only her oldest daughter, the other being absent on a visit.
I had not heard from Amherst from the moment of leaving four weeks ago last Monday. They say, they had a good Commencement, & are expecting a Freshman Class respectably large. But I have not yet seen any of the Faculty, & therefore only know the on dit, (Cousin Ann will translate the French). Miss Osgood, who was so dangerously ill last Spring, is here with a beautiful little daughter. Mr. Thursdton is sick, with a disease of the brain which makes him all the time either stupid or insane. I shall leave a little space for Ann to put in a few words. -- Give my love to all that dear family whose kindness to you has put both you & your father under such obligations.
Very affectionately, N.W. Fiske
My dear sister
I was very glad to receive a letter from you by Pa, for I had been expecting to hear from you for a long time. I suppose Pa has told you in his letter that we are both at Amherst now, we left Weston on Tuesday morning and had a very pleasant ride the day was very cool and pleasant; we spent the night at the Rev. Mr. Bullards in Barre. The next day we started for Amherst and just as we were starting a sad accident happened a few rods from Mr. Bullards house a man and woman were thrown from a wagon and we think they were badly injured. It seems like old times to be at Amherst once more; the house looks very natural on the outside but not in the inside, for different carpets and furniture alter the room very much. Janey Hitchcock came here this morning, and Mary and Martha Snell; they sent their love to you. I expect you will be much surprised to hear that Miss Emily Nelson is engaged to Dr. Fish of the North Parish; he is a widower with six children. Please give my love to Uncle and Aunt Hooker and to the cousins and accept a great share yourself.
From your affectionate sister, Annie
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Care of Rev. H.B. Hooker, Falmouth, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sep 15
Amherst, Sep.14. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
When we wrote to Aunt Vinal some days ago, I certainly expected to send you another letter in a very short time, partly filled by Ann. But she find it exceedingly difficult to get started in writing, & never sets about it without urging; and I have been myself so much harassed with the care which has come upon me during the last ten days that I have neither been able to write myself nor engage her in the work.
You may wish to know what care has come upon me; I refer to that connected with the beginning of the term. The President & Prof. Warner were both absent until after it began, & until Thursday the first day of it, nobody but Prof. Snell & myself was here, & applicants to be examined came even when he was absent, & I was left all alone; so that ever since a week ago last Friday I have felt a pressure from my relations to College; nothing that would seem much, if I were well; but in my peculiar state of health enough to weigh hard & even injuriously.
I am perfectly satisfied that I must be released for a season at least. I did hope that I might be able to go through with the present term, with the idea of then taking a voyage to some southern climate for the winter. But I now apprehend that I must not attempt to remain so long. Dr. Humphrey was here a few days ago, & seeing how I was affected, urged me to leave immediately, & prepare to go to the south in October. Some others have said I ought to go in October, I am weaker than when at Falmouth; & I do myself fear the effect of very cold weather upon my disease.
It has occurred to me, that perhaps your desire to enter Mt. Holyoke Seminary might be modified by the probability that I shall not be at Amherst. Perhaps your feelings are such as that the first question you would XX ask is, what are your father's wishes?
Now, my child, I hardly know what to say, but this much, I will say; that should I be obliged to go away in a few weeks, I should feel much more easy in my mind to leave you in the family of Uncle & Aunt Hooker (you being contented & then being cheerfully willing) than to leave you in any other place or condition I know of.
Yet I can cheerfully commit you, I think, to the Providence of God, wherever you may be; & I trust that you will leave your Aunt's with such feeling existing mutually, that it will be delightful to you to think you may return there whenever it may seem on the whole best for you, & that it will be pleasant to her to think that you may again wish to find a home there for a season.
It would be a vast relief to my anxiety in view of going far away from you to another region or country, if I had good evidence that you had truly embraced religion & were in earnest sincerity daily seeking by prayer & the study of the Bible for the constant guidance & help of your Saviour.
I received a letter last week from Cousin Martha, by which I learn that you are expecting to be at Charlestown one week from to day. I want you to write as soon as you receive this & let me know what is the day you expect to be there; so you shall hear from me again very soon after you arrive.
Ann is still here & not very anxious to return to Charlestown this week. I shall, however, probably embrace now the first good opportunity presented by any one's going to Boston who can take a charge of her.
She has commenced a note to you, which I shall enclose in this.
Give much love to all the family. You will of course let Aunt Hooker see this letter or know the contents.
Very affectionately your father,
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Charlestown,
Amherst, Sept.231. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
On Saturday Ann & myself were cheered with your letter & Uncle Hooker's & one from Cousin Martha. It seems to me on the whole the best arrangement that I can make for you at present, that you should go to South Hadley, & I expect you will make preparations accordingly, & unless some different direction as to the time is sent by me, that you will take tickets for Wilbraham; you will see that your baggage is given in charge to the baggage-master as going to Wilbraham; it must be distinctly mentioned to him; and you will take the morning train. The 'furniture things' you mentioned can be furnished here, & also the books, so you need have no care respecting either. I shall expect to meet you on Wednesday, Sept. 30. at Wilbraham & take you thence by carriage to S. Hadley; so you will get out of the cars & your baggage will be left, at Wilbraham. I shall probably be there when the cars arrive.
You will go out & see Grandpa at Weston & the friends there, & spend as much time as may be convenient. If you have sewing to be done Aunt Maria will no doubt gladly help you. XXXX It may be best to go this week. You will give my love to all there, & tell Aunt Maria, I shall come to see them probably ere long - Grandpa Vinal you will see too, of course. - Now, my dear child, I have many things to say to you, which cannot now be said.
Your letter is welcome to me in my present circumstances of darkness & trial as breathing an affectionate spirit towards your father. I trust you will be able to act in accordance with such a spirit, when temptations put it to the test; when submission to your father's judgment may cost you some self-denial; & when, being out of his sight & where it may be supposed many things can be concealed from his knowledge, you may be solicited or may have the opportunity to do whether with pen, tongue, hand, or eye, any thing which would grieve his heart. It will be at such moments that your real affection for him, your real regard to his happiness, will be proved. If you will cherish such a remembrance of him, as at such moments to think of him, & resolutely & conscientiously abstain from every thing that would pain him, then you will show to yourself that you are truly a dutiful & affectionate daughter.
There are many things that need not be mentioned which you know would grieve him unspeakably. There are several things, about which I shall write before I finally leave you to go away, as to which you may not see or feel the reasons why I should make the injunctions I may, but as to which nevertheless if you really cherish the right spirit you will strictly comply with my wishes.
Doubtless you have been surprized at Ann's arrival with no previous notice of her coming. The reason is, I have this morning learned an excellent opportunity of committing her to the care of Rev. Wm. Tyler, which I think it improper to lose.
Give my love to all, & particularly my thanks to Aunt Hooker for her continued attention to your welfare, so kind & so disinterested as it manifestly is, & such as ought to fill your heart with the liveliest & most lasting gratitude, & make it ache at the recollection of a single act or word on your part that was calculated to give her pain. It will doubtless be your wish to present to her & also to Ann Hooker some suitable token of your affectionate regard; you may consult Aunt Vinal as to what it may be proper for you to get for the purpose.
I shall want to have you bring with you your whole account of expenditures from your first going to Falmouth down to the present time; let your Aunt H. look at it & see that it is correct.
[tr. note: part of page has been cut away.]
Addressed: Mrs. Martha V. Hooker, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Charlestown, The Postmaster will confer a favor by causing this to be sent immediately to No. 15 Washington St., Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sep 23
Wednesday Morn. Sep.23. 1846
My Dear Helen,
I shall address this letter to Mrs. Hooker both because I wish to have it read by her, & because I fear it may not reach Charlestown before your going to Weston.
Your letter enclosed in one from Mr. Hooker did not reach me till Saturday night. Monday & Tuesday morning I was much occupied with fitting off Ann, who I trust arrived safely last night, & brought you a letter from me.
Had I not written until to day, I should have written somewhat differently. I have perused your letter again, & the affectionate spirit it manifest is very cheering to me & I notice that you repeat your assurances that you will abide by your father's wishes & judgment as to your situation.
Now I want to say that, if you could just as cheerfully go to Ipswich, & reside in the family of Mrs. Cowles, I should feel less anxiety in going away from you, than if I must leave you at South Hadley.
I still think on the whole it will be best for you to attend school for a while, & if your health holds out & you succeed in those respects which are more important even than health or mere learning, it may perhaps be best to continue for a year or nearly so. But in saying, as in my letter yesterday, that I thought it best for you to go to S. Hadley, I had the impression that your own feelings were so averse to Ipswich, that you would perhaps be unhappy at the thought of going there, & so of any other place that would be agreeable to me.
It may seem to some persons to be the result of fickleness, if a change of plan is now attempted; but the change will only be against your father & not you, & I know that it is not fickleness, & you know that I at first preferred your going to Ipswich, if it would be equally agreeable to you; & the change will be made on account of my leaving Amherst. - It also is late to make the change; yet I think not too late; since, I do not doubt, we can secure a place for you in Mr. C's family. True it would be unfortunate to allow the opportunity of entering at Holyoke pass, & then fail of reception at Ipswich; if I had not engaged to remain here this week so as to allow the President to be absent on College business, I think I should come directly down to consult about it. Yet I trust we should not fail.
I can come down the first part of next week probably. But I wish first to know what your feelings are. I know you will value Aunt Hooker's advice & Aunt Vinal's at this time, & should you & them still think it better to go to Hadley, then I shall conclude that after all it is best. It will be very important for me to know as soon as possible; I think a letter from you or Aunt Hooker in reply to this may be here by Saturday.
I have not time to state the reasons why I should feel less anxiety (in going away to a distance) to leave you at Ipswich, & some of them probably would not seem to you to be deserving of much consideration, & some of my fears would doubtless appear to you groundless. But one of these respects your health, & on this score I have received several notes of warning from our friends here within a few days, when I have spoken of expecting to leave you at Hadley. Another respects the family influence: the School at Hadley is a sort of family, but so large, that it is a community rather than a household; & I consider that in female education, the influences that come from the joint heads of a family are vastly better than can be secured from the mere heads of a school. Another respects personal sympathy & attention; it is not possible that a pupil at Mt. Holyoke can enjoy as much as you would in such a family as Mrs. C's.
But I must leave the subject, with an earnest prayer that God our Heavenly Father may guide us in a safe path.
Very affectionately N.W.F.
My Dear Mrs. Hooker,
Your XXXXXX XXX XXX XXXX kindness to my dear child must find its best reward in that blessing of God which 'maketh rich & addeth no sorrow'. The many things that I would say must be omitted now in the haste of the matters mentioned above. The most important for the moment are conveyed in what is above. If the change that has been suggested does not seem best, then I wish the plan given in my letter by Ann to be followed & Helen to meet me at Wilbraham on Wednesday, she coming by the morning cars. If the proposed change is chosen, I wish to hear of it by Saturday night if possible.
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. J. Cowles, Female Seminary, Ipswich, Mass, Postmarked New York, 5 cts, 6 Oct
New York City Oct 5. 1846
My Dear Helen,
As soon as I understood by Aunt Hooker's letter received last Wednesday, that you would be delivered safely at Mr. Cowles's without my presence being needed, I made all possible haste to prepare for coming hither. I left Amherst about 4 O'clock P.M. on Thursday & arrived in N York before breakfast the next morning. As soon as possible, I called on Dr. Green, who carefully examined my chest, & said that he did not detect any disease in the lungs except that the bronchial tubes were in a very unhealthy state, in consequence of a disease primarily existing in the throat. His opinion is that by his peculiar treatment I may be greatly benefited & so far restored that a subsequent voyage may secure a complete recovery of health. I have no such sanguine hopes myself. Yet I certainly am encouraged in some degree by his statements, & in respect of strength I am better than when I left Amherst. He has removed the appendage to the palate & is every day inserting a sponge saturated with a solution of nitrate of silver into the windpipe or trachea whence the fluid reaches the bronchia, & operates (as he says) to change the action of the membrane which lines those parts. My throat has been made so sore that until this noon, it has put me into torment almost to eat anything: The soreness is now subsiding. I find Dr. Green a very pleasant man, with a very pleasant family.
He's somewhat uncertain how long I shall remain here. As soon as Dr. Green has gone through his course of treatment to his satisfaction I shall come & see you. I want to hear from you as soon as you can write; directing to me at City of New York.
I sent your desk & books to Charlestown & perhaps Aunt Hooker has already forwarded them to you.
The readiness & apparently right feelings with which you come into the wishes of your father & friends in going to Ipswich were very gratifying to me. I trust you will have occasion to rejoice in the arrangements. You speak of "making friends". That you can easily do, if you really have kind & benevolent affections in habitual exercise; nothing else will do it; amiable & friendly deportment, and affectionate & obliging temper, will awaken in others that interest in you which in its turn will cause kind & affectionate treatment of you.
I hope you will reflect upon your great obligations to your dear Aunt Hooker. If a mother ever proved by assiduous care & attention a love for her own child, then surely your Aunt has proved her love for you; & if ever a doubt on that subject lodges in your mind, I think, my dear child, it must be occasioned by a stifled remembrance that something has been wrong, in some instance or instances, in your own feelings & conduct towards her, or towards the family.
I have not time now to write more. My best respects to Mr. & Mrs. Cowles. Let me hear soon, & mention if there is any thing you need.
Affectionately your Father, N.W.F.
Addressed: Miss Helen M. Fiske, Care of Rev. J. Cowles, Ipswich, Mass, Postmarked New York, 5 cts. 15 Oct
N. York, Oct.15. 1846.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter duly arrived & gave me great pleasure. I expected to be able to answer it before this time; but you can scarcely imagine how my time has been filled with a constant hurry at doing nothing. My health is really improved I think, & was apparently beginning to improve rapidly when last Saturday I took a sudden & severe cold, from which I have not quite recovered yet.
I do not remember whether I mentioned in my letter to you, that I am contemplating to go to Palestine in company with the Rev. Eli Smith who expects to sail about the 1st of November. No voyage or plan of journey whatever, that has been proposed to me, has seemed to me at all desirable, excepting this. Should I go thus, my absence will necessarily extend through a number of months; & the time for getting ready is short.
Dr. Green recommends it as promising much more for the restoration of my health than going to Florida or the West Indies.
I am not yet fully decided. I shall leave this city of Charlestown tomorrow (Friday Evening) & expect to arrive the next (Saturday) morning. In order to see you as much as possible, I want you to get excused from school, (I doubt not Mr. Cowles will readily excuse you), & take the cars on Saturday Morning, or as soon after XX you receive this as will be convenient, & go to Charlestown; you will know how to take a cab at the Depot to carry you to the Charlestown Hourly Office, & go thence to Washington Street in the Hourly; if you have not money sufficient, Mr. Cowles will probably be willing to lend you. You will need only to take a small bundle with you, as your absence from Ipswich will be only a week, & most of it will be spent at Weston.
You may show this note to Mrs. Cowles or Mr. Cowles, giving them my respectful regards. I shall see them if possible before leaving the country; certainly shall communicate with them.
I close in great haste in order to use the mail of today. Very affectionately your Father, N.W. Fiske
P.S. I have just received a letter from Cousin Martha, by which I learn that her two sisters are at Charlestown; & therefore, unless you can arrive at Charlestown in the forenoon of Saturday, so as to go out to Weston with me in the afternoon, you will not start from Ipswich until Monday Morning, since Aunt's house will be more than full.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske
New York Nov.2. 1846
My Dear Helen,
Your good account of yourself as a traveler I fully credit, & am glad that you seem to have profited by your knowledge of your cousins misfortune. Let not your skill & success in one instance, however, disqualify you for sympathizing with any that may be unfortunate. In coming ashore on my arrival here the last time, I lost sight of both my trunks for several minutes during which time I did not know but the fellow to whom I committed them had run off never to be caught by me; & if he had run, I saw no way of tracing him; but at length while I was hurrying around in the throng of coaches & drivers each pulling me & crying "have a carriage, Sir", I caught a glimpse of him & at a bound or two seized him & found he had safely lashed the trunks to his carriage & was in no disposition for roguery but was as earnestly looking for me as I for him.
In relation to your boarding should the proposed removal to Norton take place, my unaltered wish & expectation will be, that you will continue in the family of Mr. & Mrs. Cowles. The thought of your losing the happy influences & advantages of being in their family would greatly disturb my quiet of mind in leaving you to be absent we know not how long, It has been one of the greatest trials to which I have yet been brought, to come to the resolution of going thus away from my dear children. One great reason which induces me to go is the hope that I may by a blessing of God obtain health & strength to be longer useful to those beloved daughters. I have great confidence in you, Helen, & great hope, that you will be to me, if I live, in future years, a source of comfort & happiness; & these are the very reasons why I would have you board in the choice family instead of the common boarding-house.
I have but a few moments now for writing. Let me then once more entreat you to make it every day your first great aim to live before God as a humble, penitent, & devoted disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without piety of heart, whatever else you may obtain will be comparatively worthless. However, defective your father's example has been, you know, my dear child, that he considers a "good hope through grace" to be the highest earthly good, as the object of that hope when realized in heaven is the highest possible good of man.
Let me next urge you to an assiduous daily endeavor to maintain toward all around you an amiable deportment. Be truly kind & affectionate in your feelings, not selfish nor self willed, & your deportment will be amiable & will make friends; without possessing & showing such feelings you can not be nor appear amiable.
In all your intercourse with your Teachers be perfectly respectful & perfectly frank & ingenuous; and if ever their views & directions should cross your wishes, beware of indulging for one moment the thought that they regard you with unkindness, or that they love you less than before. Let it be your unwavering course to endeavor to encourage them in every effort for your own good & that of the school, & to sustain every rule established by them whatever it maybe.
I also enjoin it on you to write frequently to your Aunt Hooker. I fear you do not sufficiently feel your obligations for her disinterested & unwearied kindness toward you. You are certainly wrong, my child, in some impressions intimated in one of your letters. Your love & gratitude & child-like confidences are due to her. She has done for you what no other person except your own mother ever would have done, & she still feels for you as no other person ever will; & depend upon it, Helen, if your heart runs away from your Aunt Hooker, it is a fearful indication.
Correspond with Ann & Sarah Hooker also; to other persons write very seldom; a promiscuous correspondence will be worse than useless, much worse. Write to your sister Ann, & encourage her to learn to write, & endeavor to render your letters useful to her.
And now, my dear child, farewell, the Lord be with thee & bless thee, & if I see thee not again in this life, may the Covenant keeping God bring us together when the families of the Redeemer shall be assembled in the mansions which Christ hath gone to prepare for them that love him.
Very affectionately your father
P.S. I expect to sail tomorrow, in the ship Arcole, Capt. Hoodless, for Marseilles, to go thence to Smyrna, & thence to Beyroot. As to letters, I cannot expect to receive them from you very often. The best direction I can give you is to write Beyroot, Syria, & send your letters in envelope to the care of Henry Hill Esq. Missionary Rooms, Boston, & if by mail, post-paid. Write on the thin paper.
Helen Hunt Jackson
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