Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-27 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 1, Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 27, Letters to Deborah Waterman Vinal Fiske (HHJ's mother) from various people, 1828-1845 and not dated
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, July 1996
Addressed: Miss Deborah W. Vinal, Boston, Mass, Mr. Oswald
Lanesborough September 1828
My dear Deborah,
I will improve this favourable opportunity in telling you, how much I thank you for your letter received while at Northampton, confined to my chamber & unable to speak. - it came just after a visit from my physician - who beside applying two large blisters to my throat, with his delicate hand & life restoring (or destroying) instrument, the lancet & he was as bad as his word - Oh Deborah, I had a seige of it, indeed, 10 long days - unable to leave my room - & three weeks the house - away from home - among kindred - & friends kind ones too. - but after all "there is no place like home" - no care like that of a mothers - she is unwearied - untiring - in her assiduities; but I think this little frusation has taught me how to pride these invaluable blessings. I returned to Lanesboro as soon as I was able to ride, found my mother & sister waiting rather impatiently my arrival - they left yesterday morning - & tuesday next I follow them. I feel more anxious to return on account of my health, than I otherwise should. I have a very troublesome cough & lame shoulder, which I begin to feel that I have too long neglected, it my lungs seem to be a good deal affected, & very weak - indeed Deborah I have some dismal forebodings of the future - but enough of myself. And now how do you all do in Hancock Street? does your guest still continue with you - about what time do you become his? I sincerely hope all your bright anticipations will be realized & more than realized. I shall ever feel a deep interest in your welfare - & it will give me heart-felt pleasure dear Deborah, to hear from you as often as convenient, do think of me sometimes these long winter evenings - that are just at hand - which seated by your own fireside, busily plying the needle - your husband by your side, reading, yourself & father attentive auditions. - these are but the outlines of one of your pictures of domestic happiness. I leave it for you to fill up.
We attended the ordination of Mr. Tappan at Pittsfield yesterday - the exercises were interesting - sermon by Dr. Griffin. Deborah, what would you give to see our precious one - pig tolmondo - alias Sarah B.Hooker? She grows as fast as ever, indeed she is a beautiful child. Sitting aside my partiality. I would gladly fill these pages - but writing does not agree with me - Martha will however, which will be better by far.
You promised to exceed the writing if it were ever so bad - you will remember this - & the promise you made, that no one but yourself should ever see my letters.
My love to your Uncle & Aunt Vinal & Mrs. Walker - and believe me dear Deborah, yours with much affection.
Addressed: Mrs. D.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Hartford, CT. DEC 22
I have for sometime been deliberating in my mind, how I should commence my letter to you whether with a "dear Deborah" or "Dear Mrs F...." or plain "Mrs F"... but as I do not understand enough of etiquette to decide I shall dismiss the letter prefatory line altogether and enter upon the subject of my letter, which is to call you to an account for breach of promise. I have somewhere read that the Jews suppose that when people are married they are absolved from all the sins of their past lives. I do not know but you suppose that matrimony in a similar manner absolves from all past engagements - But I must take this opportunity of informing that I am very far from considering this to be the case & moreover that I am determined that all engagements made to me either before or after marriage shall be sacredly & inviolably kept. But seriously my dear D -- do you never intend writing me again - or are you about to begin as all married folks do to give up all your former friends? I am sure if I thought that all my friends would adopt the same course I should be a most firm & decided enemy of matrimony in all its forms.
But a truce to scolding - (although as that is now to be your vocation a lesson or two in the art might not be much amiss) my object in writing is to enjoy a few moments of chit chat with you in old style. In the first place how are you situated - a very natural question which you will think, I supposes admits of but one answer. How much extra dignity have you assumed in your new station. How do you like Amherst - the situation, people, colledges, institution, husband & all. I have really a benevolent curiosity in endeavoring to ascertain. How do you spend your time - in literary or domestic occupations? - now when you write you must answer all these questions and add as much more information gratis as can come without double postage. As for myself, I am the most literary young lady in the Union. All my time except Saturday & Sunday evenings is employed in study - & those are devoted to correspondents, & if it would edify you at all to know what I am studying I can answer you in brief that it is Latin Rhetoric & Italian. I feel very much like little girls when they first go to school who you know always can make out half a page of their letters with the list of what they are studying.
For my part I think that the Teachers here study much more than the scholars - because they not only must know all that they do - but have more to communicate to them. Our term is divided into period of six weeks each and we calculate to finish a class in those Studies in that time. My studies for the last term were Rhetoric Grammar & Latin. for the next they will be very much the same if you only write Mental Philosophy in the place of Grammar.
I really do not know how interesting these details of my School plans may be to you, but you know we are apt to fancy that this will feel some degree of interest in what interests us. In return for my communicativeness you can if you please send me some of your plans relative to the making of soap and candles or pickles - which will prove equally entertaining to me. By the bye, there is one very interesting question which has of late occupied much of my attention. I believe it is the law that all the possessions of married people should become common property - now what I wish to know is whether this law extends to letters received by the lady after the ceremony because if it does I shall be extremely careful for the future to write more respectable looking letters.
Have you heard from or written to E. Homes or Martha & Mary Evarts lately? Do you know I fell quite in love with the two latter during my last visit to Boston and really long to go back that I may be better acquainted. As for Elisabeth she is holding her tongue to me as "wiser maids" have done before her. I shall begin to suspect that there is some Professor at the bottom of the business if I do not hear soon
For a miracle I am out of debt to all my correspondents & some of them are as deeply indebted to me as three sheets of nonsense written at sundry times can make them. I am now in fair sight of the conclusion of my letter & will leave a little piece for you to write an application on. So farewell. Your affectionate
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Boston, Mass. Mr. H. Homes
[Saturday] Newton, January 17, 1829.
I was very happy once more to receive a letter, short as it was, from my old friend and correspondent Deborah, though instead of "Vinal", another name not so familiar to me, is added to Deborah. Though we must each allow the other to give husbands the first place in our hearts, yet I agree with you in thinking that no reason "for loving each other less" -- Well, then my dear Deborah, I will formally renew all the professions I formerly made, as I feel them as much, and, if you agree to it, our correspondence shall be again renewed. You must not scold me, or cease to love, if sometime elapses between my letters, as you will remember, I have a whole parish to visit, while you have only a few select friends.
With regard to my visiting Boston, while you are there, I am much afraid it will not be in my power, while you are there. I expect to visit Medford week after next, and perhaps Boston may be taken in my way, though this is not my present calculation. It would gratify me much, if you could ride to Newton, and make a longer call, than you did last summer. If I kept house, I should insist upon a visit.
I am still much pleased with my situation. My greatest trial is, I am unable to visit, as much as I could wish, and the people do not call upon me, as I want them to. They say, "if I kept house, they should come more". But Deborah, we must not expect unalloyed happiness in this world, and do you wish for it? You speak of "Mr. Bates's sickness". I suspect, you have heard some exaggerated account. He has not been very sick this winter. His old complaint has been troublesome, but I have now great hopes, it is essentially better, and that he will soon be quite recovered. Two months since, his voice failed him two Sabbaths, and I began to think he must relinquish preaching. He had a bad cold, and since then, he has finished his sermons, though when he preaches in the afternoon, he is some troubled. Some medicine he is now trying, evidently does him good. I have been much tried, with the thought, that he might be obliged to relinquish preaching. I know, I am not fit for the wife of a minister, but it was painful to think of not being one now.. Much was formerly said to me of the trials of a minister's wife. As I can now judge for myself, I must say, the trials are nothing to what I expected. Deborah, there are so many pleasures to counteract these, they appear nothing -- There are so many ways and opportunities to do good, not attendent on any other situation, and the pleasure is so great of thinking your husband is doing good, and is beloved by his people, you would forget the little trials. Do you have many opportunities to do good, as a professor's wife.
We feel encouraged as it respects the religious state of our society, I feel as though there would soon be a revival here. Oh! that it might be so. The most encouraging symptom is, the Church appear to be waking up. Next week on Friday, we are to have a Church fast. These have been blessed by God in other places, and I do hope ours will be blessed. I have never been in a place, where they had a Church fast, but have supposed them very solemn seasons. The female prayer meetings in this society are very interesting. They have them in different neighborhoods. Do you have one at Amherst? It is thought, those meetings here have been instrumental of much good. My dear Deborah, does it seem to you, that the welfare of immortal souls is in some degree dependant upon you? Oh! do pray for your unworthy Emily, that she may not be found unfaithful, at the great and solemn day of account.
There are some trying circumstances, connected with my dear husband's situation here, which would not exist in other places - but I do not think there is any probability of our leaving Newton at present. I want to be, where I can be doing some good, or at least tying to do some. Perhaps at some future day, we may live near each other. You may be assured, this would be very pleasant to me, but of what consequence is it, when we pass this short life, if we are only prepared to spend eternity together in heaven.
I looked many pleasant days for your dear cousins, the Misses Scholfields, but looked in vain. I did hope to have seen them here. And Mary and Martha too. Only think I have been in Newton 7 miles from Boston, and not one call have I had from any of my friends there, excepting yourself. I sometimes enquire, why is it? Remember me affectionately to your Aunt S. and Cousins, and Mary & Martha V.
Mrs. Sewall is now in Boston at Mr. Hardy Ropes. It would not be different from my anticipation, if she should not live until spring. I have not seen her this winter, but she is said to become weaker fast, and her cough still continues very distressing. She is an interesting woman, and on account of her three little children, it seems to me very desirable, her life should be spared. Her Mother is now with her, and Elisabeth passes the winter there.
I have received no letter from Charles this long time. I will deliver your message to him when I write. He does not love to write letters. -- I must thank you for the piece of cake you left for me. I valued it much, as coming from you -- It would not have been strange, if you had forgotten me at that time. I should not have blamed you.
Remember me to your Uncle and Aunt Vinal and little Martha, most certainly, not forget to add love to Mr. Fiske likewise. Tell him from me, he does not yet know what a prize he has. Mr. Bates sends love to you and Mr. Fiske. Have you forgotten the evening, I passed with you, when our hands were so bound together? I should think our Uncle and Aunt would want you cheer them, some of these long winter evenings.
If I do not see or hear from you, before your return to Amherst, let me then receive a long letter soon, and you may believe, I shall always rejoice to receive them, and to hear of your welfare. Tell me all about your situation, joys and sorrow.
May much happiness, my dear Deborah, be your lot here, and may we both, after being blessings to our dear husbands, and the Church below, be members of Christ's Church above is the sincere prayer and wish of
Your friend Emily A. Bates --
I do not usually sign my whole name, but as you are a fashionable lady, and signed all yours, I follow your example - only think, what an influence, you have over me!
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah V. Fiske. Amherst, Mass.
[Tuesday] Boston. June. 30th 1829.
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I had resolved to devote this evening to prepare a letter for you, but just as I was ready to commence writing, I heard the voice of our good friend, Mrs. Washburn, & knew that she was coming to sit a little while with me in my room to lessen the hours of my solitude. The best part of the evening has now passed away, the clock struck nine some time since, & drowsiness reminds me that my usual time for retiring has come, but as I promised your aunt that "I would write," & desire to send you some little token of remembrance, I will favour you with a dull & sleepy letter.
I regretted very much that I was absent last winter when you were in town, for I anticipated much pleasure in seeing you. I hope, however, that we may be permitted at some future time to meet again, & that we may have many new mercies to acknowledge from the hand of our Heavenly Father. Let us not for a moment cease to be grateful that we have been led to look to God as to a father, & that we may at all times & in all circumstances ask, & expect from Him all those special blessings which we would desire a tender parent to bestow.
I rejoice with you that your aunt & cousin can visit you this summer, & cheer you for so many days with their society. May you enjoy all the happiness you have anticipated, & that I think must be to enjoy a great deal.
I should try to send you some scraps of news, only that you will have an opportunity of taking over with your friends all that is interesting in the present state of affairs in Boston.
I wish much to become acquainted with Mrs. Abbott, as I have heard that she was one of your Amherst friends. She is now in town, but I have not seen her. Mrs. Hill & Martha Evarts called on her a few days since.
Yesterday, Martha entered upon the duties of her office, as assistant in Mr. Abbott's school.
Mrs. Hooker will tell you that I have had the happiness of hearing from my husband, & that I am, in a day or two, to receive letters giving the particulars of his travels, &c. Could I be transported to Amherst with my pacquet of letters, it would give me pleasure to read you some extracts, & receive your sympathy in return. My dear little Henry is well, & is no small comfort to me in the absence of his father.
Were you not pleased to hear that Mr. Green & Mary were engaged? I feel as much interested in this engagement as I did in yours.
I intended to copy for you a few lines that I sent to Mrs. Hooker a year or two since, but have not the time this evening. If I write you again I will send them.
Let me assure you that ever & at all times I shall be happy to hear from you. My interest in your welfare will not, I trust be diminished by absence.
Please present my respects to your husband, & think of me as
your sincerely affectionate friend.
Addressed: For Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To The care of Prof. Fiske.
[Sunday] Boston, October 11, 1829.
My dear friend,
Your aunt Vinal has just put the accompanying letters into my hand and requested me to give them to a lady in our neighbourhood going to A. in the A.M. and I cannot refrain from sending you a few words with them, although it is the holy sabbath, and contrary to my usual practice to write on this day, but I have just heard of this opportunity and do not know when there will be an other. -- When I left Amherst, I fully intended to write you, but before I had done it, I heard that you were sick, I then thought, I would defer it until you were better. I felt rejoiced that you had been preserved and, that you were the mother of a darling babe, but I did not once think that your little precious one was loaned to you for so short a time. I truly sympathize with you and Mr. Fiske in his disappointment of your hopes. Though deeply afflicted, I know you feel it is right. God has taken your dear infant from a world of disappointments and sorrows before it had tasted the bitter cup and now it is happy - forever happy; safe in its heavenly home. How many evils has it escaped and how many sins. There is a great company of these little glorified beings in heaven and there song of redeeming love is a sweet song.
Though God has afflicted you, dear Deborah, he is still your Father -
"Afflictions all his children feel;
He wounds them for his mercy's sake,
The wounds to heal."
My visit to you, was a delightful one; such interviews are scattered along through lifes pathway and they are precious in recellection.
My ride was very pleasant, the day I left you. We arrived at Barre at 3 P.M. instead of 9, as you had predicted -- When I was A. I thought you had every thing of an earthly nature to make you happy - and a mind and heart too, capable of enjoying the refined pleasures, with which you are surrounded. How pure and beautiful; how exalted should our thoughts be when our heavenly father has done so much for us. -- Perhaps dear Deborah you would have set your heart too much much on your earthly home and happiness had you not, by this despensation of Providence, been warned, that this was not your home. --
Do excuse me, my dear friend, if I have said too much, for I meant it all in love.
Were it not the sabbath I could say many things, but I ought not today. Catharine sends much love to you - You have a sincere friend in my father, I believe, I never heard him express more affectionate regard for one of my friends than for you.
I trust your health is restored, shall you not come to B. this winter? - our friend Elizabeth is engaged to be married, you will hear particulars. Will you not write me? Will you not sometimes pray for me, I do need the prayers of my Christian friends; I feel that I cannot, I must not live without an interest in the Saviour.
My kindest regard to Mr. Fiske, his kindness to me, a stranger, won upon my heart. Also to your sister remember me affectionately,
Sincerely your friend
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah Fisk, Amherst, Mass.
[Sunday] Boston Oct 11. 1829
Dear Mrs. Fisk,
Your gem, I hear is deposited, but is it not because God is making up his jewels? I too have lost a son - & though the lenient hand of time has wiped away my tears, they come again, when I heard of your sorrow -- your all, of ofspsring was reentered in that little book -- with me, the wreck was not so total -- (even now, my foot rocks the cradle of an infant Baxter.)
We bless the Lord on your account, that he enables you to say "It is well." Yes my dear Sister, I trust it is well with you, well with thy husband, well with the child. May your life & health be precious in Gods sight. May you find it equally good, to sit under the shadow of his wings, as in the bright shining of health & prosperity. In feebleness, as well as in strength, the christian finds it good to bless & praise the Lord. But we must, O we must, be made better when the hand of God touches us! Is it not as the hand of a parent, who seems to say 'My son, my daughter, consider thy ways & be wise.
Our dear Mrs. Anderson feels for you - she still sings of mercy, but her husband is in a strange land, & we know not how soon her harp may be upon the willows - my husband too, & my first born are in New York.
When news of your confinement I came - I ran to Mrs. Abbott that she might joy with you, for together had we talked of you with great interest.
Our friend Martha Evarts, is at the South for her health. Hope predominates with her family, but I feel solicitous. O that the Lord would sanctify this dispensation of his providence & cause her to evince every christian feeling. Mary is on the eve of an interesting event.
With kind regards to any friends who may enquire
I remain your sympathising
friend & sister
Laura P. Hills
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
[Monday] Boston October 26th 1829.
I resolved this morning, my dear friend, that this day should not slip away, as many a day has done, finding me, at its close, still wishing and resolving to write to you, if it were only a few lines to assure you of my remembrance and deep sympathy, for your recent trials and afflictions, -- I was just preparing to write when your Aunt kindly called to inform me of an opportunity, which I most gladly embrace, for sending to Amherst.
A less kind heart than yours would have laid up heavy charges against me for negligence, perhaps for forgetfulness of old friends; but my silence has arisen from causes, which, were we together, I could explain, rather than from any want of sympathy. I have often been with you in spirit, since our seperation, and have heard with deep interest of your health, safety, and recently, of your sufferings, with strong and peculiar feelings of solicitude. I had hoped and prayed, my dear friend, that you might be spared the sufferings I went thro in a similar situation but "God seeth not as man seeth", and has is indeed continually and strongly reminding us that in the hour of the brightest and fondest hopes he can turn one joy into heaviness; but the support you have had in this season of affliction, and the acquiescence you feel, ought to give us the assurance that he chastens you as one of his children, and that this dispensation will work for good. I do hope you are progressing in recovery, and will soon be able to leave your chamber for the parlour, or if this second summer continues a little time longer, you will be able to gain some strength by air and gentle exercise, but trust you will be very careful in making any change. Experience tells me how very necessary it is, and I feel much gratitude to many kind friends at A. to whose care I owe so much.
We are anticipating much happiness from having yourself and Mr. Fiske so near us for a part of the coming winter. I hope though your health & strength will be quite restored, though if you do come to us an invalid it will give me indeed much pleasure to have you again for a neighbor. The wish often rises that I could do as much to cheer some of your lonely hours as you used to mine, and which kindness contributed so much to my happiness while at A.
Mrs. Hill often speaks of you, as indeed do numerous friends, with warm affection & regard -- She has had quite a sick family, but they are on the recovery. Mr. Hill's health is decidedly better and a journey, taken recently, to Albany.
The schools seem at present to go on well. Mr. Young seems much interested in his, and his number of pupils is increasing. I feel much inclined to pass a part of every morning in the school under Mr. A.s charge, particularly since Miss Leach has been his assistant, as she is a very entrusting companion. She now boards with us, and I find it very pleasant to have some one with me to whom I can often speak of you. She desired her affectionate remembrance to you. She has seen severe afflictions since you have met with her, having lost, within a year, two sisters, and having experienced some solicitude as to her situation. She seems now pleased with her present one, which I trust will not impose too arduous duties, for her health is too delicate to allow of great effort. She will, I think, exert a strong religious influence in the school, and is calculated to win the affection & respect of the scholars.
Will you remember me to Mr. F. & your sister, whose presence now must be a great comfort to you; -- also to many others of the circle in A. -- to whom you know I feel strongly attached.
The accounts from Miss Evarts and Mrs. Washburn are favourable and encourage their friends to hope much benefit to the health of the former.
We have been interrupted continually this afternoon by company, and Mr. A. has left it in charge with me to dispatch this our letters immediately, -- so I must close forthwith, -- with earnest wishes for your entire recovery - and a hope that we may welcome you ere long to Boston, believe me Yours affly,
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
 Wednesday, P.M. January 13th
My dear Deborah,
It requires some resolution, to read over your last letter, with its fair anticipations, and think of the bright hope it expected of soon enjoying much of your society, without having a good crying spell, like those which I was want to relieve my feelings in the days of childhood. To think that I should have been so disapointed. I laid by your letter, thinking "I will not answer it now, for I shall so soon see her, and now to look at it, brings back all the visions I had formed of pleasure in seeing & conversing with you. It seems like a dream that you have been here & gone -- and that I who so seldom leave Boston, should have passed many weeks in the country, in December, and during your visit too, is quite provoking. I heard too, on Friday when I came in town, first that you were gone - secondly, that you were out of town & would not return till Saturday night so I did not go to see you till Monday. Does it not seem as if my evil genius had exercised a more than usual influence over me that week? Your kind note was the best consolation I could have received. I thank you much for it, & for the precious relic enclosed - I had looked over vols. of old bound periodicals of that day for it & for others of a similar interest but had never been able to find them. It was a singular coincidence that both events should have been recorded in the same paper. You must have been very young for I was not born till 3 years after my mother's marriage. She met with the same a similar affliction to that which you, my dear friend, have been called to pass through in losing her first dear infant. I have often wished most earnestly, that my little sisters could have been spared but perhaps it is well, one of her children is forever safe. I have thought much of you, my dear friend, in your affliction, a deep affliction, to a mother's heart indeed it must be, to part with a sweet infant, but still the hopes of immortality, of a blessed eternity, therewith shed unclouded brightness, upon an infant's grave, that we ought not to lament their early removal from this sinful, miserable world - There is no idea more delightful to me than that of a little one removed in its innocence, from this dark vale of tears, to the world of light and love and its mind expanding in an atmosphere of moral purity brought up as it were, in the immediate presence of its Saviour, & in the society of angels and the spirits of the just made perfect. Oh, my beloved friend, what brighter lot could a mother choose for her first born son? -- There is a beautiful piece of poetry, which you have perhaps seen which often comes to my mind when I think of you-- anticipating the feeling of the mother, when after many years, she should look back upon the removal of her little one - is thus expressed then:
"I look around to see
The evil ways of men
And Oh! beloved child
I'm more than reconciled
To thy departure then.
God took thee in his mercy
The lamb untouched, untried
He fought the fight for thee
He won the victory
And thou are sanctified.
How beautiful the character of the Saviour appears in relations to these little lambs of his flock. Particularly when we think of the millions which die in heathen lands, where they would have been brought up in ignorance of Him & to whom early death is certainly a most peculiar blessing.
Many questions in your last letter you probably have been able to answer from your own observation during your late visit. Did you see, as you said you wished to, the gentleman who are going to steal my dear Bowdoin Place friends? I would almost believe Elizabeth was already stolen for I have not seen her these 6 weeks but Dorcas & I meet very often. As teachers in the same Sabbath School we manage to have considerable intercourse notwithstanding the rules of our school, are very strict. There is the walk to meeting you know, and a few minutes talk by the stove. We meet too at the Sewing Circle & our dear, dear Tuesday Lecture, though I have not attended that regularly this fall & winter. They are as interesting as ever. Mr. B. has just finished explaining the 8th of Romans. Our sewing circle flourishes well as well as could be expected as we have not taken any pains to increase our numbers. You know our object was rather to have a social, friendly circle, than to have a very large society. I wish you could meet with us once. We shall feel the departure of E & D to, very much in our little meeting. I have never loved D. so much as the last year. She has become very dear to me & I dread parting with her more than I can express but not more than you can feel. I have had no opportunity as yet to become acquainted with Mr. W or B. They are both very sedate looking personages - and are said to be very sensible agreeable men. Mrs. B. is a poet, that is certainly one delightful ingredient in the composition of a friend. I believe the rest of our Park St. girls are stationary for the present, but I have done placing any dependance upon their continuing here. Truly this is not there "abiding city," and I have learnt by wofal experience, that I "know not what a day may bring forth." Mrs. Beecher is an invaluable acquisition to our society - was not you delighted with her. Her society is the only one on which I dare to depend for any length of time. I loved her very much as Isabella Jones last winter, and you know her being the wife of our minister would not have a tendency to decrease my affection for her. You ask about our S. School & tract society. Our school is in a flourishing condition although the new school under Park St. has stolen some of our pupils. I have some of the scholars that I had a year ago & some new ones. At our last Teacher's meeting we had a resolved process to visit in every house in our district of the City. My part is Marion St. with Bradford Place, but one of the teachers whose health is not good, is to accompany me if able.
I dread the undertaking, and wish most ardently, that visiting would be struck out of the list of S.S. duties. The tract society I feel much interested in, as anything of the kind, like my office very well. I went out to get my tracts the day you left Boston. they are all arranged in the front parlour on a great table - and make a grand display. I wish you could just call in & take a peep - We have been up to Kate Walley today to remind her of her duty to write a letter to Ceylon to accompany the present of a set of vols. which you may remember was voted to be sent, the last time you honoured us with your presence you see how the treasurer expedites business. --
What have you been reading lately, that you would recommend to me? I have begun Dwights' travels, but do not know as I shall ever have patience to finish them. -- I have seen but very little of Mrs. Abbott, she looks like a lovely woman. How much must you feel the loss of her society. I ought not to wish you to have such a lovely place at Amherst, but I cannot help often asking myself. "Is it not possible that at some future, not very distant, time Deborah, our own dear Deborah Vinal, may come back again for good and all" as the children say." I should be delighted to come & see you but dare not look forward to such a pleasure. Should an opportunity ever offer, when Aunt Wright is going to North Hampton, for a few days, or should my father's business had him in that direction, I might avail myself of your kind invitation, and come in upon you unawares.
Mother and the babe are very well, we call it Louise Sewall, for my brothers wife, whose death you perhaps remember. She is a sweet little girl, healthy & quiet. & we begin to love her as well as her brothers and sisters. Do write me, very soon, if your health and occupations will permit. Oh! I had so much so very much to say to you when you came to Boston, but the time has gone by - as all my time & opportunities do without being improved. -- If I could but pass one day with you, this winter, I would not ask for more but it cannot be. You do not know how uselessly my time passes over. You will say, "there is enough to do if you had a will to do it" I know it, but still though I wish to improve every moment hours, days & months pass and nothing is accomplished. Now, my dear friend excuse me for troubling you with this confession, but I know you always had the happy talent, of accomplishing much. I will not say all that should be accomplished because I know you would be cortial of me, but very much indeed compared to me, & will you tell me how it is to be done. If you would, you would confer the highest possible
obligation upon your unworthy friend. I wish you would tell me too how you manage to secure the attention of your little S. Scholars. This quite beyond my power. I hope you will write soon to your affectionate
It is not too late yet to wish you a happy New Years. May many happy useful years be your lot here, my dear Friend, and each one find & learn you will never, never prepared for that Eternity in which there divining of time shall be known no more. - & which you & all your beloved christian friends shall be united to part no more. Adieu, my dear, dear friend. Do write whenever you can.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass
[Thursday] February 4th 
The enclosed, my dear Deborah, was written to send by an opportunity which has passed by, it is of rather of ancient date but as it contained nothing which pretended to be news, and as I am in debt to several of my correspondents, I thought you would excuse me for not writing a new letter - instead of sending you that. I have most sadly injured its outward appearance by my endeavor to impress a "Forget me not" upon the seal - have only succeeded as you percieve far enough to leave a memento of my own clumsiness. Have you heard of the misfortune which has befallen us? the loss of Hanover Church with its Tract Depository, Missionary Rooms. Mary and various wore the expressions of feeling upon the occasion as tho bystanders were well or ill disposed to the church and its minister. There never was so general a distribution of tracts I believe since the Society was established. They were carried from the north end to the south - particularly the one entitled "Tis all for the best" was most widely distributed. The papers of the Miss. Soc. I believe were saved but the loss of the tract society is estimated I believe at more than $5000. However perhaps there may be more good done by the tracts than if they were left to the discretion of the usual distributors - Sometimes offence is taken at a tract given by a christian friend, as if it were a personal reproof there surely can be no such feeling. When the wind carried them "where it ." My mother is very well for her dined below to day for the first time & the baby grows finely. You see you are indebted - to my carelessness - for quite an [ ] upon the envelope though I should not wonder if you should think there was quite enough (such as it was) in the inside. I have done as much usually do - around the old adage - and made upon in quantity - what was wanted in quality. Do write me so on a good, long letter, and you will much oblige your affectionate Mary Cawhire.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Single. Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Boston MS, MAY 21
[Wednesday] May 12, 1830 --
Dear Mrs. Fiske,
I seldom have received a little letter about little girls, (for your kind favour was not a mere note), that interested me more than that just received from Amherst. My husband, to whom I always look for direction, bids me day, that by writing to Rev James Ely, Cornwall, Conn. your list of inquiries respecting the children of the Sandwich Island Missionaries, will be fully & correctly answered, as he has lately returned from there. My love to your Juvenile circle -- I do indeed love them -- I shall remember them in my prayers, and perhaps at some time, write them a letter.
And now my friend, may I ask you to write a letter to my afflicted, widowed sister in [ ], Mrs. Wm A Porter - her her husband deceased the 2d of April, died in holy triumph. You will remember that she visited at Mrs Vinals & that I have often observed a resemblance between you & her. *"We are women," dear Deborah, & let us do promptly what the hand findeth to do.
*no longer children.
I find that Mrs. Hill misunderstood me. I have written to Mr. Ely, requesting him to write to you and inform you respecting the children at the Sandwich Islands. As it is warm there, it will be best not to send any woollen articles.
The articles may be sent to me if you please; directed to Mr. Chamberlain or some other person at the Sandwich Islands; and I will see that they are carefully forwarded the first opportunity.
With my respects to Mr. Fiske,
I am, Dear Madam,
Yours very respectfully,
May 20, 1830.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah Fiske, Care of Professor Fiske, Amherst, Mass
Return address: Abington, Mass, 3 August
Abington July 1830
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I would be rather late, I believe, to attempt a reply to your letter received six months since; and particularly to acknowledge its receipt, as I have been permitted to do this verbally. Since, however, a letter from a friend, is, to me, never ill timed, I avail myself of the privilege of writing, even now, confidently believing, that in this our feelings will not be at variance.
My visit at your house last fall, together with your letter afterward, and my recent visit have created feelings of deep interest, and I write, rather to solicit another letter, than because I have any thing to communicate which will gratify you.
You will probably have seen your aunt Vinal before this reaches you, and through her been informed relative to our return from Amherst, and the health of my husband. Since she was here, however, Mr. Shedd has been more seriously ill. He suffers now rather from [paper missing] than diseased lungs.
To how great an estent his original complaint is the cause of the present, or whether at all, I am unable to determine, consequently how much reason I have for the solicitude I feel I know not. However this may be, I find it very difficult to divest myself of it. But though the future is altogether hidden from my view, and wrapped in an obscurity which I should not dare penetrate, were I permitted, it is yet visible to him who knows our frame, and knows likewise what he will enable us to bear. To him I wish to commit all that is future - feeling that with whatever ingredients my cup may be mingled, it is still given by a Father's hand.
We had a short but very pleasant visit from your Uncle & Aunt Vinal, and hope yet to see much more of them. Your little Martha is now with us and we love her already very much. Our Elizabeth is highly gratified, and I think they will become very warm friends. Martha is almost impatient with the storm - she begins to doubt whether she is to see the sun in Abington - she is however [paper missing] happy, and sends you much love.
I am told that you have commenced making butter and that you make it fit to eat. I have no doubt of the perfect correctness of this operation. The varieties of country housekeeping will open to you new sources of amusement, instead of disquiet, as it does to too many. I congratulate your husband on this account.
Shall we my dear Mrs Fiske, ever see you in Abington. We will still anticipate it - or rather we will hope to see you somewhere. Will you not again write a knowledge of your circumstances in all respects, it will always be gratifying.
I regretted very much that it was not in my power to aid you in your plans of benevolence. but Circumstances at that time forbad it, and I know not now whether it will ever be my privilege.
Mr. Shedd sends much love to yourself and husband [paper missing] both accept much from
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Care of Rev. N. Fiske, Amherst, Ms, Postmarked: Boston, JAN 30
[Wednesday] Boston Jany. 29. 1834
My dear Deborah,
When I received your letter, mailed the 21st, I hoped to have sent you an answer before this; but owing to an inflamation in one of my eyes, I have been kept from writing for several days. I do not know that I can write much now, but neither do I know that I can say anything that will interest you or do you good; but I will make the attempt to say a few things, with the hope that they may suggest other & more important ones to your own mind.
Our Association in the beginning was a united one, composed of members of Old South & Part St Chs - after Essex St. Ch'h was formed they united with us. & our Meeting became exceedingly interesting. & we hoped blessed of the Lord. several of the older children became hopefully pious, & some of them to this day remember early impressions received at those meetings. After several years the Ass. became so large & the children so numerous, that we thought it best to divide & each Ch'h to sustain its own Association; which we did, & there are now eight different Associations which meet monthly by ourselves, except in October when we hold a united meeting, & invite some Clergymen to address us & our children. at this meeting we fill Park St Church vestry quite well, & we think it does good.
In our monthly meetings we endeavor have as much prayer & conversation appropriate to the occasion as possible. we take our work & one reads aloud to us, giving each an opportunity to make remarks & ask questions if they wish it. If any one has any difficulty in the training of her children or feels that she needs counsel, she is perfectly at liberty to ask advice, & feels that her confidence will by no means be betrayed. We do not mean to carry the names of our children or their faults to these meetings, yet sometimes we find our hearts comforted by knowing that other mothers have had the same difficulties to encounter, & when we find that they have been successful in overcoming them, we are strengthened in our resolutions to persevere. Generally we open & close our meeting with prayer, & sometimes we feel that there is special call for more prayer, & then we lay by our work & reading & spend most of our time in prayer. At such a time as this when God seems to be near, we spend much of the time in prayer. Our quarterly meetings, we conduct in various ways so as to make them most interesting to the children. We always commence with prayer, then take up the contributions, which we now appropriate to the support of a missionary child, who is an orphan & is sent back to this country from India. Formerly we supported a Heathen child in Ceylon. Sometimes we have sent money to support sabbath school in the West. We generally lay some interesting objects before the children & let them decide which to support, & then urge them to save up all the money they can, by self denial & industry, to aid in the object, & it always excites great interest. After this business is over we hear their recitations, either a Bible lessons or Hymns or something of the kind, not very long, sometimes we adopt the lesson published in the Mother's Magazine. Then we talk with them & read to them out of some interesting book, sometimes one addressing all the children together, sometimes each of us select two or three & converse with them in a low voice. At other times the Mothers except two retire to another room to pray, while the two converse with the children. In short, we continue every way to interest & do them good. And now my dear friend you will wish to know what good all this does? And I can't say to you positively that it has done any, & yet I do feel for myself that it always does me good, for I never return from a meeting without feeling my hands strengthened & my heart encouraged. The fact that so many pray for me & mine is a great comfort to me, for this is a part of our obligation. But that is not all, there are not a few of the children connected with our Association, who are pious, some are married & are exerting an influence in other Associations - & to many who are now with us, give evidence that they are among the lambs of the flock. I hope I have not wearied you, by this prolix account, & if I had time & eyes perhaps I could copy & condense it, but I have written just as the subject has come up in my mind & you will excuse it, & if it affords you any light or assistance I shall be happy. Dorcas has quite an interesting Ass. considering how little she has to make it of - but it only shows to me how much effort & perseverance will do. She spares no pains to qualify herself to do good & excite an interest, she says it takes her the whole 3 months to prepare & possess herself with anecdotes & profitable things for the children. Elisabeth gives us much hope that she is among the friends of Christ, she has not made a profession but is exerting a good influence in Societies, female prayer meeting &c, she has a delightful little boy. Dorcas' children are very lovely - My husband's health is wonderfully good this winter, he goes out at 1/2 past 6. to prayer meetg all winter. Our Minister is just as good as ever, & as the whole we are highly favoured.
I hope your own health will improve. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX With kindest regards to your husband & all friends, particularly Dr. & Mr. Humphrey & Mr & Mrs Hitchcock, believe me ever your affectionate friend Isabella Homes.
Addressed: Mrs Fiske, Care of Rev. Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mr. Adams
[Sunday] Andover March 2d 1834
My dear Mrs Fiske --
I am truly glad to hear by Mr Adams that your health is restored, for I had many fears, when I heard of your being afflicted with the whopping cough, that with the tenderness of your constitution, the efforts would be serious and lasting. You have had Miss Leonard's faithful nursing and care this winter, & more than all the tender mercy of Him, who tho' he promised to his children chastisement and rebuke, adds also, "worthness, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from thee, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail".
How many of the friends to whom I was attached in Amherst, have been in deep affliction since I was there in June! Mrs Lyman Mrs Thayer, Mrs Gridley & yourself. I rejoice in the hope that in each of these instances the chastening has been that of a Father, and tho' grievous & bitter, he has "sat as a refiner and [ ] of silver", watching lest the heat be too intense for the precious metal, and also for the object of the process, the reflection of His own image therein. I trust that each of these friends have found the blessedness of being among those "whom the Lord loves". Who would not choose the portion of children, the faithfulness of a father in discipline in rebuke, by which we are prepared for the inheritance of those who are "joint heirs with Christ". I have often thought of Mr. Wilder's reply to a person who inquired the number of his children, "five, - three here, & two in heaven" - Your little precious ones would perhaps have been the joy of your heart here, but how much better for them to commence the service of God so soon, almost with their existance & before they had tasted the bitterness of sin. I should be very glad to hear from you my dear friend and know something of your sorrows and of your consolations. Do remember me most affectionately and with much sympathy to the persons I have mentioned, & also to any other friends whom I sincerely love. Mrs Humphrey Mrs Washburn Mrs Hitchcock Miss Mary Shepard & her sisters & Mrs Snell. I would gladly write them particularly to Mrs Lyman & Mrs Gridley, but this evening is my only time, & I am so much troubled with my eyes, that I can scarcely see to arrange my words. I hope it is a temporary evil, but for the last fortnight, I have been obliged to give up reading & sewing almost entirely. My health is perfectly good. I keep house for Mother & have an abundance of profitable exercise, tho' lately I have been a little troubled & kept still with a lame ankle, a consequence I suppose of the swelled limbs from which I suffered some years ago.
Mr Park preaches constantly & enjoys his pleasant study here very highly. He hopes he shall spend this year in his present situation, where he has so favourable an opportunity to pursue his own favourite plans of study. I would write to Miss L. & tell him about Mary if it were possible. She has perfect health & my Father thinks she has "capital traits of character". She can say "Twinkle twinkle little Star," and How doth the little busy bee" & "Tho' I am young, a little one", &c. Give my love to Miss L & thank her for the letter which I received last fall.
Dear Mrs. Fiske, the lamp has a halo round around it, such as the moon has, in a misty night. I ought not to write another word. My letter bears no "marks of evil," & I should be ashamed of this, if I would write a letter tonight. But it will assure you I know of the affection of your friend,
My Mother & Husband send their aff. regards to yourself & Mr Fiske.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst
[Friday] Charlestown May 30th 1834.
Dear Mrs. Fiske.
Your letter was received before I had left my room after a confinement to it of several weeks, by a severe cough attended with fever which had so far reduced my strength as to disable me for a time from sitting up, excepting to have my bed made. As the process, by which I became sick, was slow, so likewise has been, that of my recovery, scarcely perceptible from day to day. But by the blessing of God upon the means used for my restoration, I have gained so much, that I have been able to take several rides. I am now with my mother, having shut up house for a fortnight, that I may be free from care, & have an opportunity for journeying, which my physician regards as necessary, for the confirmation of my health. My friends think I am not quite free from the hidden embryos of the same insidious disease with which you, as well as myself, have been threatened. I have, therefore, promised them, that for the present, at least, I will not engage in any thing which I can well avoid. Under such circumstances you will not consider me, as needlessly excusing myself from performing the pleasant task, which the kindness of your heart prompted you to request me to undertake. Most gladly would I aid you in administering to the necessities of the Beneficiaries of your College. If it were not for the sake of my health, however, I should not dare to promise you much, as I cannot lay claim to that tact of begging of which Mr. B. possesses so large a share. & indeed if I could, so much have our people been solicited to contribute, to different objects since the opening of the year. They might not so generously meet a new demand upon their charities. Mr. Bennett has solicited & obtained about three hundred dollars among those recently for Marietta College - for which institution our Female Charitable Society, & also our Juvenile Society, have each begun a box of clothing, bedding &c. These boxes will not probably be filled till Autumn, as I understand they have not progressed much in their work, of late. If my life is spared, till what is already begun, is completed, I will cheerfully mention your request to our Society, & I doubt not they will wish to do something, though our charities are often called for, in aiding the Beneficiaries in our Academy.
You mention the affliction with which you have been visited in the death of a beloved child. I think I can sympathize, in some measure with those who have been thus tried, as our children have each been twice dangerously sick. Being called to part with your little one at so early a period of the existence, furnished you with the rich consolations of hope concerning them.
You were apprized, of the bereavement, with which our family have been visited. I am now writing at the same desk, where your husband has so often seen, our departed father with his pen & papers. But we shall never more behold his venerable form & silver locks. He will never again return to bless & counsel his household, but some one or all of us may soon be called to follow him to the final resting place for our bodies. It matters but little when, or how, if our souls are only prepared to wing their way to those mansions where Jesus & all who loved Him, dwell.
I am not able to answer your enquiries respecting our friend Kate, not having seen her since her marriage, previous to which time she used to favor me with her visits & letters. I was about to express a wish that, fitted as she is to adorn society of an elevated kind, her lot has been differently cast, but I was checked in the expression of such a wish, by the recollection that the disposal of her fate was at the direction of that [paper missing] who is infinitely wiser in his plans than any of her short sighted friends. Indeed, if she & we are what we profess to be, lovers of God, whether we love parents or children, or are afflicted in other ways, of this we may be assured, that we shall never have one trial, we do not need & that all things will eventually work together for our good. In every chastisement, we have one source of comfort, even though every other should be dried up, the consideration that the Lord reigns.
I did not mean to intrude so long a letter upon you, but my pen as well as my tongue is prone to too many words, but I agree with you in disliking apologies. My mother wishes to be remembered to you & our husband. Mr. Bennett & George would doubtless join with her, if they were aware of my writing. May we not hope to have the pleasure of a visit from you before another winter? Please to make my regards acceptable to your husband, & believe me to be with true respect
Addressed: Mrs. Professor Fisk, Amherst, Mass.
Return address: Halifax, Ms, June 12
[Friday] Halifax, 6th June 1834 --
I cannot but admire your perseverance in well doing. For while I have suffered myself to be led on by a habit of Procrastination, and permitted your kind epistle so long to remain unanswered, you have forwarded me four numbers of the mothers Magazine, all of which have been duly received, and perused with much interest by my family, & self, and are now circulating in this neighbourhood. They possess appeals to the hearts & consciences of Mothers, which one would suppose almost irresistible, and I trust they will not prove like "water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered again," but that your kindness will prove a blessing to all who may peruse them; to this, I am aware the goodness of your heart, will lead you fervently to respond. -- --
When I seated myself to address a few lines to you by Mr. Beman, almost fearing it would be considered an intrusion, I did not allow myself as usual, to indulge in anticipations of an answer, but proceeded, merely in accordance with the dictates of that affection which I have ever felt for all, however distantly related by kindred ties. Thus, when your letter was handed me, I perceived the most heartfelt satisfaction; although in the perusal it pained me much to hear of your affliction, in the loss of your little son, and your own severe indisposition. I had previously heard of your sickness when in B., but had no idea that you was brought so near the gates of death, neither had I been informed of the death of your child. --
But how my dear cousin could I grieve for you, when at the same time I discovered in your epistle, so much resignation to the divine will. It seems to me, that the peace & severity of mind which the views of the true christian inspire, must far outbalance every earthly deprivation.
As I proceeded in the perusal of your letter; I felt emotions of pride, not I trust unmixed with gratitude, that you had deigned to express so much interest, in the present circumstances, and future prospects of my family; I will endeavour to answer your enquiries, but time admonishes me to be as brief as possible. You say, you remember Halifax, and the red house in which I formerly lived; I now reside about 1/4 of a mile from there, and about the same distance from the Factories, in a small green house, on the stage road from Bridgewater to Plymouth. Mr. Pratt is still in the employ of H.M. & Co. at the generous wages of 4/6 per day, and boards himself; your knowledge of the daily expenditures, even in a small family, will lead you to conclude, that after the necessary wants of the family are supplied, there is little left for the superfluous ones; However, I seldom feel cause to complain at the allotments of Providence, in view of the many mercies I receive, compared with the few I deserve; I have generally been able, either by the force of education, or something implanted within me, to keep the bright side in view, while struggling along the rough & crooked path, which it has been my destiny to travel, though I have often severely felt the need of the all powerful aids of Religion, to enable me to perceive, and discharge my duty, in the various stations assigned me in life.
Our Son William is at Middleborough, about ten miles distant from us, apprenticed to a watchmaker & jeweller; the trade of his own choosing, [paper missing] the best adapted to his mechanical powers; he is seventeen years of age, went to his trade at fourteen, and has always appeared happy and contented in his situation; if you were to see him, it would be difficult for you to realize him as my child, for he is nearly six feet in height. You enquire, what are our plans in relation to our daughters; we have as yet laid no plans for them; they are still with us, the eldest fourteen, the youngest (Ellen) is ten; they are not very robust, particularly, the eldest, although she has the most healthy countenance of the two; she has grown very much the year past, and I attribute her feebleness in part to that. We have now a decent district school, which Ellen attends steadily, and Aroline when able. I have just had the favour of a visit from sister Jane; we were called to Situate to attend the funeral of our Grandmother, and she returned home with me and spent about ten days, and they are with Ellen is now visiting Aunt Hobart. You ask if Aunt has become a christian; she has made no profession of religion, I visit her occasionally, and she visits me; I often hear her express a great desire to be a christian, and I think her views are changed, as it respects the things of this world, they are gradually sinking in her esteem, and I am sometimes led to think she has commenced the christian course. We attended followed our venerable Grandmother to the grave on saturday May 24h and passed the night in Situate; the next morning Father proposed taking Jane & myself over to Marshfield, to call on Aunt Clift, a privilege I never expected to enjoy again in this world; thought that I had visited her for the last time about three years since, when cousin H. Bowker was boarding there, of which you probably heard her mention; I found Aunt very feeble, but much better than she had been; she seemed much happier in mind that when I last saw her, which was quite a satisfaction, and that, together with the joy which she repeatedly expressed at seeing us, was all that tended to make our visit supportable, I wish the poor old Lady had a nurse more capable of administering to her wants; Deborah's will is doubtless good, as far as her ability extends, but I can tell you cousin, it is not there now, as it used to be when we were young, and to be there, and witness the decay of nature in Aunt, and the change in all around, it becomes almost insupportable; I understood that Aunt O.V. had been there a few days previous; if she visits you, she will give you the particulars.
You ask if I have a good minister, in reply to which I will inform you what are the religious privileges to be enjoyed in Halifax. One and a half miles from us, there is a meeting house where the Calvinist doctrines are advocated, the minister a Mr. Elbridge G. Howe, doubtless a very good man, and one who ardently desires to be useful in his station, he makes himself acquainted with the religious movement of the day among his order, and in that respect has enlightened the minds of his people in that respect far more than their former Minister, Mr. Richmond, who was dismissed about two years since, but Mr. Howe is a very small preacher; there are continual broils in the church, they have had council after council, and finally it has been recommended to the disaffected members (who accuse their pastor of being too liberal in his views; of preaching Unitarianism, milk & water preaching &c &c.) to draw off and form a church by themselves, or join sister churches in the adjoining towns. there is a small Baptist society about four miles from us, and there is what is styled and accommodation meeting house, near where we reside; Universalism and Restorationism is what is generally advocated there, and the next Sabbath I understand there is to be a female preacher from among the reformed Methodists. here I generally attend meetings, because it is near, and we have no horse or carriage to enable us to go any distance, and my strength will not admit of my walking any distance -- I think cousin Deborah you must be very happily situated, and I hope you will long be spared to enjoy it, trusting that your fears respecting your own health are in a degree, groundless; I can hardly submit to the thought; that all I would fain say to you, must be communicated by writing, especially when I find myself at the very last of my paper - hope you will excuse my negligence in writing, and write me soon, should like to have you continue sending the Magazine, as long as you can spare them. My Husband requests a remembrance, likewise Aroline who is making much dependance on your promised letter to herself and sister. Your affectionate cousin
Alice V. Pratt
I wrote to Aunt M. Beek several years since, and received no answer, I think however I shall write her soon.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Mr. A. Bigelow
My dear friend Deborah, for I shall not be so formal as to say Mrs Fiske, even tho' it is so long a time, since I have addressed her, it is never long that I do not think of her, with much affection.
I was sadly disappointed the other day on opening a package, which I was told was from you to find that it was not. I received it in Boston & reserved the pleasure of reading it, until my return home. I was pleased with what I did receive, it was a long affectionate note, from Miss Ann Shephard accompanying a package of flower seeds, which were very acceptable, Still when I had been looking forward with pleasure to reading a note from my dear friend D. who had not written me one, since my marriage, & had just said to husband "that my friend Deborah had not given me up tho I thought she had," I was disappointed to find that her thoughts had not come to me, tho' I might sometimes be in them. The reception of the life of Doddridge & a Catalogue, prove that my name is not forgotten & are therefore very acceptable tokens.
I was in Boston last December & remained rather more than four weeks, which is the longest visit I have made at home, since my marriage. I called there to see your Aunt but she was so sick that I could not see her. I love to see her & talk about you whenever I have an opportunity. which is seldom, as my visits in B. are usually so short, that I have only time to do my shopping.
Sister Elisabeth is now probably in N. York, she had a sweet little boy named George. He is with his grandfather W. Elisabeth finds that one of the greatest trials of housekeeping is to procure help. She has had no steady help now for sometime. I have been wonderfully favored in that respect. I have a good girl to do my cooking & a young girl to assist me. I find my three little children quite a charge, & that is not as easy a thing as I used to think it was, to make children do as we wish to have them. I would not mind either the number, or the looks if they only do well. I read the Mothers Magazine & many other interesting & useful books on education & keep trying, but still I fail but I must trust in the Lord & look to to him for help - & I hope as I grow in years I shall grow in knowledge & experience.
I was grieved while in Boston to learn that Catharine Walleys father was so deranged, he was raving part of the time & had locked the door five Sabbaths to prevent their going to meeting.
It seems delightful to go home & see the young ladies with whom we used to associate, I feel like one of them when with them & forget the changes which have taken place -- Mary & Catharine Jenkins & the lively Mary Caroline do not alter much.
I heard from Elisabeth this week that she was well & has now gone to N.Y. tho' she was not gone when the first part of my note was written, which was more than a week ago. I was called from it suddenly & left it unfinished.
Now dear Deborah do let me hear of your welfare in your own hand writing. Brother Andrew can tell you about me & mine.
Remember me affectionately to Mr. Fiske, & believe me as ever your sincere & affectionate friend,
Dorcas F. Bigelow
Walpole May 21, 1835.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Rev. Professor Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Andr, Ms, MAY 28
[Tuesday] Andover May 26th. 1835
My dear Mrs. Fiske -
I received a short letter from you last fall in which you speak of having written a long letter some time before - I asked my husband what it could mean, for I had no recollection of having received a [ ] from you. The mystery was unravelled in Feb. 1835 when your letter written in May 1834 was taken from our office post marked "Andover" - of course the bearer was at hand, but who it could be that was so punctual & faithful, I could not imagine. Happily for him, his name was not on the outside of the letter, but if you remember who he was, I imagine you will never trust him with an express in any case of importance --
But long as this letter was on its way, it was very welcome, for I was truly glad to hear how you and all Amherst friends were a year ago. I had had now and then a verbal account of them which was more recent but you took me around to all the neighbours. & I enjoyed my calls very much. It was also a pleasure to me to know that you also had been sustained & comforted in affliction, for it sustains our faith to see that God does not forsake his children in the [fermain] where he sees it mindful to place them. When dear Dr. Wisner was dying, Mrs Wisner said in her agony, to Mr & Mrs Hubbard (who you know how both been bereaved in the same manner) "did he ever leave you, did he ever forsake you? seeming to long for that assurance of the faithfulness of God, which the expression of others of his children could afford her. I saw her before the funeral. As is sometimes the case she seemed to have more abundant consolation then than afterwards, & said that she could from her own experience tell one "don't be afraid". She has since suffered extremely in body & mind, but is more cheerful now and in better health, tho she still carries a look & a heart of woe. She has gone to live with Mrs. Bacon in New Haven. She has been here to visit sister, with Mrs. Dr. Rice of Virginia. The husbands of these three widows were intimate with each other, & their companions who remain, are strongly united in that tender sympathy which none but widows know. Mrs. Rice & Mrs. Wisner have no children & comparing their loneliness with my sister's, I can appreciate the blessing she has in such a source of comfort & occupation & care as her six children afford her. You enquire about her and them, & will be interested to know that she has one of the best of daughters in her Mary who is nearly 14 years old, & the most mature & industrious child of her that I ever knew & best of all, I think she is an exemplary Christian. The eldest son is in a store, well situated. Thomas is at home at school, having been on a farm a year & a half, & is much improved. The younger children are promising, & are sunshine to their Mother's heart.
I am now visiting in a chambre of sister's nice & convenient habitation, (with which the widows God has provided her), when I have taken up my abode for the present. I have enjoyed constantly improving health for the last 2 years, & last winter was almost as well as I used to be in the days of my youth. I often found myself skipping up two pair of stairs, without losing my breath at the top either, but my skippings are over for the present, & I now approve of gentle & level steps, almost finding as if I must lift my feet high, as a cat does when walking in the long grass, that I may not encounter any earthly obstacle. My cares in keeping house at Mother's I tried to think I could sustain still, but at last was obliged to flee, in the midst of painting & whitewashing & housecleaning. My dear sister has opened her house & her heart to receive me, & here I shall probably remain through the summer and fall. Mamma & Father would love to have me there, but I cannot be a member of the family without sharing in Mother's cares, & often when she has company, making efforts which I ought not to make any where. I have been so accustomed to take responsibility there in every emergency, that now I cannot be under the roof and be still when occasions of pressure come. Mamma's health is good, & I hope she will be able to sustain her cares this summer, & the better, because of the respite she has had for more than a year.
Mr. Park has been preaching in Gloucester for the last three months, & if he were willing to settle in the ministry yet, would probably remain there, for it is a desolate place. But while he would not give up preaching the gospel, which he does constantly, he has some reasons for preferring to remain here at present. He has now gone to Providence, carrying Mary to make hr a visit to her Grandmomma Park. She is now four years old & quite "companionable" - reads a little, & sews very well & has great perseverance and activity. I often think how her faithful friend Miss Leonard would delight to see her.
How is Miss L. & where is she? I rejoice that you have had the benefit of her faithful care, so much of this time since I gave up all my claims. I should like to transport her across the hills in the fall, but it is too far to wish any one to come for my sake. Give my love to her & tell her I should be very glad to hear from her.
Now dear Mrs. Fiske, think how much has accumulated during a year that I should rejoice to hear, from Amherst, & I am sure if your health is good, you will write me another letter of just such a "country cat" as the last, for the dimensions are satisfactory, if the proportions are not according to strict rule -- I carried it to Gloucester where I went to stay awhile with Mr. Park last month (my last ride away from home) & intended to answer it there, but I was so unwell & uncomfortable while there, that I did nothing to any purpose. We saw upon hills around Gloucester the "Liberty poles" & signals, which Mr. Hitchcock set up when he was surveying that part of the state, & I think he will say it exceeds all the rest of Massachusetts in rocks & desolation. tho' some views of the sea & are very fine. Give my last regards to Mr. Fiske & love to little Helen & accept much love from your affectionate E.R.H. Park
Now this letter "tells about every thing," & it is my special request that you will not keep it in your own workbasket & for your own eyes only, giving much love to my kind friends their in Amherst, all of them, for there are many there that I shall always value, & in whose blessings I am ever interested.
Mr. Wornster is in the full tide of popularity in Salem. But his home trials are rather increasing. Mrs. W. has been removed to the country.
Sister wishes me to give her kind regards to you. Thomas sends his love & respects to Mrs. Fiske.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Dr. Humphrey
[Tuesday] Roxbury, Oct 27. 1835. --
My dear friend
I was more disappointed than I can express in not being able to go in to see you while you were in the city. For three days after you were here I was too unwell to go out, and on attempting to ride found the exertion too fatiguing & was obliged to return home. Your kindness in calling has often been thought of & I shall frequently think with much satisfaction & interest of that interview, so very pleasant to me.
Mr. Abbott is now in New York, but I am looking with some impatience for his return, as our second little boy, whom you saw so healthy & happy, is quite sick. Our Physician says there is no cause to apprehend anything serious, but as the measles are very prevalent I think it must probably be the commencement of that disease.
The affliction we met with last year in the loss of our little girl, & her sickness occurring during Mr. A.'s absence, makes me perhaps feel more solicitude than I ought, but what a sweet comfort it is to know that that there is one who is nearer & better than all our earthly supports; - one who will do better for us than we can ask or think.
I write in great haste, as I wish to send this into town to reach Dr. Humphrey.
Will you accept this little volume which will interest you from its truth & nature, & from being another interesting memento of Dr. Payson.
Yours most affly
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske, Care of Rev. Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Andr, MS, NOV 2
[Saturday] Andover Friday Eve. Oct 31.
My dear Mrs. Fiske --
I should have written you at least "five or six lines" by our good President, but he did not stay with us as usual, & when he called he forgot I suppose to leave your letter, & I did not receive it till he had left town. Notwithstanding this I should have prepared a short letter, but he told me that you had been in Boston, where I thought perhaps you had heard something about me & therefore I preferred to wait a few days till I could write more fully, as I have been for several weeks wishing to do. Dr. Humphrey made a short visit in town, & I was then busy preparing to go to Boston today, but Mary has the whooping cough, & in addition to this trouble, has for a few days been uncomfortable with the chicken-pox & I am now waiting till next week when I hope we shall both be better prepared to change our home.
Dear Mrs. Fiske I thank you for your very kind interest about me & for the sympathy which I know you have felt for me in my trials. If I did not know that the kind compassion which we feel for those that are in sorrow brings its own reward to our hearts, I should almost have a feeling of regret that I have made such frequent demands upon the sympathy of my friends. Yet what could we do without it? It has been one of my sweetest "comforts in ny affliction," & one of the reasons for which I would say, "bless the Lord O my soul!"
I forgot whether at the time I wrote Miss Leonard I was troubled with a cough. It came on in July after one of those sudden changes of weather, & for several weeks was very unyielding. I think it was six weeks before it was subdued by blisters & leeches, & tho' from that time I was entirely free from it, its effects remained with me till my confinement on the 15th of September.
Persons less susceptible than I am in I sick circumstances, have often had a cough as unpleasant as mine, without any ill consequences, but it injured me in a way that I cannot explain in a letter, & was the cause of my premature illness. But this cause as well as the effect, was from God. It accomplished just the errand for which it was sent. So foresight would have prevented it, no pains were effectual in removing it till it had done its work. I am comforted that God's hand has done it all - that we omitted nothing which could prevent my health & safety, that no imprudence or neglect can be remembered to cause us regret. I had strong hopes that this time I should be a happy mother, but I daily & almost hourly reminded myself that it was more than possible that I should be disappointed, & I prayed that I might not complain or find fault if this should be the case. I would be thankful & feel that it is of God's goodness, that if he has not accepted all my petitions concerning this thing, he has kept me from murmuring against his will. It has been a bitter trial to us & now, I seem to have no hope - I cannot say that I wish that my hopes may ever be excited again.
My recovery has been very favourable, & I think I am now as well as I was within a year after my last illness at Amherst. I was more prostrated by that illness than by any previous one, but since then I have gained much in general health, & have now much more reason to hope for health & ability to "do what my hand findeth to do," than I had then. I hope that after this week I shall be with my husband, & the days of our separation will be ended. We shall board in Charlestown for a while, & perhaps continue there, unless the walk proves too long for him, in the winter. He has a very pleasant boarding place, & we do not like to take the risk of an exchange.
Now I have written about myself to my heart's content, but you encouraged me to do so, therefore I shall make no apology.
I cannot but hope from the cheerful strain of your letter, that your health is much improved & I rejoice in it, but how you will miss our good Miss L.! She cannot keep you well, but she has no doubt relieved you of that care of your children which would have worn upon your health. If I knew where she is, I would write to her. If you hear her direction will you send her this letter?
Dr. Humphrey was here only in the evening, but I thought he looked ten years younger - & he seemed so bright and animated & healthy that I must hope he will (as we express ourselves,)
his 10 years longer for this pleasant excursion - it seems to be little more in these days, when a person may cross the "big pond," visit England, Scotland, France & Ireland too, & back again in six months.
We remember & love Amherst College, & rejoice in all the good we hear of it. We love Amherst friends too, & are always glad when we can make enquiries respecting them, or have any communication from them. Give my love to them, particularly to Mrs Humphrey, Mrs Hitchcock, Mrs Snell, Mrs Washburn, the Misses Shephard & Mrs Lyman & Mrs Gridley. Remember me too to Mr. Fiske. Mary is sound asleep or she would send some message to Helen. She is very healthy, & I think will not suffer serious from the cough, tho' at the best it is a very uncomfortable period in a child's expression -- & often a very sad one as you have reason to know. Dear Mrs F. why did not you come to Andover in all that three weeks' visit at Boston? We should all have been truly glad to see you. And why did not you let Mr P know that you were there?
Our friends may find him, or write me, to his care at the Baptist Missionary Rooms No 17. Joy's Building. I mean to go and see Mrs Abbot soon after I get to B. How surprising that her health and life are so prolonged? -- Mamma send her love to you - This is "after prayer," & it is time I was "all up stairs" asleep, so good night, -- Your truly afft.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W.V. Fiske, Care of Proff. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Boston, MS, NOV 10
[Sunday] Newton, Nov. 8, 1835
My dear, though long neglected friend,
I have been thinking of by-gone days, since my little ones have been lain in their beds; and while reccollecting dear friends, the form of dear Deborah, arose to my view, and I have determined to answer her kind letter, and remind her again of Emily. If I could usher you into my family, and show you, how almost every moment of my time was occupied, and how little time I find for reflection, which we so much need, to keep our minds active and vigorous, you would not wonder, that I find so little time, or inclination for letter writing. My daily duties unfit me much for sober, steady thinking, and I often fear, I am so worldly minded, that I have no part among the children of God, and of course, for any intercourse with those, that are.
But I will not be this sentimental to my dear Deborah. I know such a letter will not be acceptable, but it is Sabbath evening and I naturally take a sober strain, and I have, of late, had some clearer views of my own heart, and thought more of another world, than formerly. My situation, as the wife of a minister, will not allow me to be light and trifling as I used to be, and my responsibility as a mother, leads me continually to look beyond this world. In looking at your letter, I perceive it is more than a year, since it was written. I thought then, I should answer it very soon. But how quickly the year has passed. At that time dear Sister Warner was in this world, though a sufferer, trying every means to persevere, a poor, emaciated frame. She has since, we trust, made a glorious exchange. We have scarcely mourned for her. She had been sick four years, suffered much, and there was no probability, that she could ever enjoy health. But oh! we have missed her, and even now, when I think of her, I long again to hear her voice, and listen to her advice. My dear Deborah, you can never know, what a kind Sister, or even a Mother, she was to me. She cheered me, if I was desponding, advised me, if I was in doubt, and was always affectionately and lovely. Excuse me for thus eulogizing one, you knew. She has left one little daughter, the age of my oldest son - 5 years last May - A Mrs. Fairbanks, a widow lady, who was with dear Sister, when she died, has taken her for the present. She is the best person, to be found, to have the charge of her. There is mutual love between them. The dear child has been very sick, the past summer, and contrary to our expectations, she is now partially or wholly restored. Mother took her in the spring, from Mrs. Fairbanks, who had taken care of her, after her mother's death, and thought, with my assistance, we could keep her with us. In a few weeks, that dreadful disease, the scrofula, made its appearance, and for several weeks we expected she would leave us. She is a very difficult child to govern at all times, owing partly to her never knowing the care of a Mother, and changing from one to another, and partly to her natural disposition. When she was sick, it was trying indeed to take care of her. It made Mother almost sick, though some of the time, we had two nurses with her. She is a very bright, forward child, and if rightly managed, with grace, will make one of the best of women. It is hard that she cannot live with us, but my duty to my children require, that she should not be here, unless Mr. Bates and I should have the entire control of her, which cannot be. Her Father has been with us, most of the time the past year. He would like now to be settled in some place, and have a home. I wish, for his sake, he had a pleasant parish. His health now appears to be very good, much better than in former years, and I think his trials will make him a more plain, pointed preacher. I do not mean that he was not formerly a good preacher, but I think he will now be more generally understood. I suppose he is now at Andover.
My dear Mother has called it home with me for several years, but this autumn, she went to Philadelphia, to see my brother, intending to return this month. I heard a fortnight ago she had her things ready to leave for Pittsburg, where I have another brother. I now fear, I shall not see her again this winter. I am much dissappointed for in winter I shall be much alone, especially evenings, without her. If you have been in Newton, and perceived how scattered the houses are in this part of the town, you would suppose, there is not much neighborly intercourse on a cold winter evening. But I am trying to bring my mind to it, and hope, it will lead me to look more to a higher source for happiness. My dear husband is very much occupied in his pastoral duties. He is not one of those ministers, who merely preaches on the Sabbath, and scarcely ever visits his people. Sometimes, I think he is always going. He visits all the families, at least twice a year, beside the sick, & when death occurs. As the people are much scattered, and he keeps no horse, his duties are very laborious. I have often wished, he might live in some place, where his salary would allow him to keep a horse, or he could visit with more ease, but here we stay, though he frequently feels, as though he should not stay long. His labors here have been much blessed, and the people still appear attached to him, though it is now a cold state among us. Some of the church begin to think, something must be done, among us, and we feel some encouraged - meetings are a little better attended, than they have been. There are a good number of young persons in our church, which renders it interesting to a minister. His salary is small, that I have to economise in every way I can, and give up many of my former views and feelings. He has only 500, not including house rent, far too little for this vicinity. If it is not raised ere long, I think we shall be obliged to leave, but I do not mean to trouble myself about the future. The people have to raise over 400 for their old minister, Dr. Homer, which is making the sum a great deal for a country parish to raise. The times are more hard in this region - As to my own family, I have now three healthy boys - Edward Payson, James Atwood, and Charles Henry. The youngest almost two years old. I have never known the pain you have experienced, in parting with one of these darling ones. I have sometimes tried to realize, how I feel, if called to such a scene, but fear I should ill bear such a trial. My children have been uncommonly well. I take the whole charge of them myself. They have never been to any school, but the Sabbath. I keep but one girl, and of course, you will suppose, I find enough to occupy my hands and thoughts. If our lives and health are spared I intend to learn my eldest much this winter. He is now at an age, when it is interesting to try to teach him something from books. He has learnt to read, and amuses himself much in that way. -- Excuse my egotism.
Your dear Aunt Scholfield is likewise among the dead. I was very happy to learn from Mrs. Anderson, who has boarded in Newton this summer, that there was a decided change in her views, and that she left, passing evidence of a happy change of worlds. I hope her children will become sincere christians. I always thought Ann, seemed thoughtful, if not the others. When you see or write to Mrs. Hooker, tell her I have not forgotten her, and wish her to remember me. I should delight much to see her. Cannot your Aunt Vinal ride out to see me. We should like much to welcome her here. I do hope, if you come to Boston, you will visit me. You will find me living in a plain manner, perhaps surrounded by my noisy boys, but I shall be glad to see you. Only think of Mary Green with her 4 or 5 little ones! Can you realize that such changes have taken place, since we all spent an afternoon together at your house, and your Uncle learnt us how to tie our hands together in some peculiar manner.
Brother Charles comes to Newton occasionally, though his business confines him most of the time in Boston. He has not yet made a proffession of religion. I do think he is a Christian, but he wants some one to urge him to duty. I do hope he will find a good wife ere long, and I then think he will take a decided stand. He appears just as he used to, engaged in every good object.
Do not wait a year before you answer this. I can assure you I often think of you with unabated affection, and shall rejoice at the renewal of our intercourse. Mr. Bates would join me in love to yourself and husband, but he is absent, attending a third meeting. Receive this as a token of sincere affection,
from Emily A. Bates.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, By Mr. Forrest.
[Thursday] Weston June 23 1836
My dear Sister,
I like the idea of paying my debts, and having a letter due; therefore you will please to excuse the stupidity which one feels after washing; you may thin Saturday is sheets washing day, it is not generally any day to wash but we have been rather short for water, having a thaw yesterday I caught a supply of water; and to day have done three weeks washing. Father has had a very bad fall, from a hay loft, it is three weeks since, he was getting hay for the cattle, it was rather dark, he does not know how he fell, Mr. Patch was in the barn and heard him all, he probably stuck his head or shoulders first, the hurt seems to be about the neck and chest or breastbone, he suffered a great del of pain for a few days, would not be moved, we were quite alarmed at first, had a physician immediately, he said there was none of the ribs broken and he thought he would get over it again, he gets along very slowly; has a good appetite and says he feels as well as ever he did when he is on the bed. When he sits up has a good deal of pain about his neck and the pit of his stomach, he gets about, and goes out of the hour every day, I do not thin he will be able to do any thing more this winter, and I am fearful he will always feel the effects of the fall, he has got to be quite old, and a fall generally [ ] old people and often proves fatal.
Another person in this town has had a fall and it is expected he will never be able to walk again. Mr Hastings about father's age, I feel as if we had very great reason to be thankful that the injury was no worse. We live in the middle room, have got two beds, or one and a half in it, our family is so small that I can do the cooking in there very well the room is so longe we have plenty of room.
I wish I could hear from you once and not hear that your girl was gone or going; I suppose it is one of the evils of life which will stick by without fail. We were disappointed in not seeing your husband this vacation. I should think he would be as glad to get away from Printer as a man would be to get away from the sheriff. Miss Brackett is well and sends her love to you, she has been spending a week with us.
We have had a very sudden death in the neighborhood. Mr. Charles Premis, your husband knows him; well one sabbath and buried the next, his death seemed awful, he to human knowlege died without ny preparation for death, he was the one who prosecuted our Master for punishing his boy I believe he was heard to swear he would be revenged if God spared his life, but God did not spare it, he was summoned to a higher court.
Abby was quite delighted with her letter has answered it as you will find. You may think when you see this sheet that I was straightened for paper, but it was not the case I was more straightened for time & did not see that his sheet was written upon until I had filled one side, had not time to write again, and thought i had better cut out piece then send you some writing which did not belong to you.
Give my lover to all your family.
I believe I must hear the rest of the news from Martha to tell you, as she is writing; do not let the thought of having nieces to correspond with make you feel old.
from your affectionate sister M. Fiske.
[Saturday] Halifax 26th March 1836.
My dear Cousin,
Yours of the 12st inst was duly received, and the apology for delay cheerfully accepted -- We are perfectly satisfied with your proposals as it regards Aroline, and we shall be making our arrangements to comply with them; in the firm belief, that, with the blessing of God, it will tend greatly to her improvement, and with the most sincere hope, that she will be enabled so to conduct herself, as shall meet your approbation, and that of all concerned.
Previous to recieving your letter, William had given an invitation to ride to Boston with him, and I consented; if he would go with such a horse as our good old Aunt Clift used to say she liked; with his head between his fore legs, and his tail tied on with a leather string; for by the way, among all my other deficiences, I am extremely deficient in point of courage when riding -- As Wm is going to the City on business, which does not call him untill the 17th of April, my visit, with the preparation necessary to fix off an old lady who seldom goes out of sight of the smoke from her own chimney, will be the means of delaying Aroline's journey some - besides, you are aware, I could do nothing towards preparing her, untill informed of your decision -- however, I should think it probable she may be in readiness to leave home about the 1st of May -- You seem to anticipate that my heart may fail me, as the time of her departure draws near. - believe me cousin Deborah, if I am blest with health, it shall not; for according to my ideas, that Mother discovers a lamentable weakness, who could not sacrifice her own ease and comfort, to promote the good of her offspring.
Accept my warmest thanks for the interest you express in the spiritual welfare of myself and family, that your most sanguine wishes may be realized, not only by us, but by the whole human family, you may perhaps be surprised when I say, I am almost persuaded to believe -- My heart is at times, alive to the all important subject of Religion, and I humbly pray that I may be permitted to remain a sojourner upon earth, untill my mind may rest upon something decisive, and I shall no longer be blown about by every wind of doctrine.
Your affectionate cousin
Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
[Monday] Charlestown. April 4th 1836.
My Dear Mrs. Fiske.
With this letter you will receive a bundle, which may excite your curiosity as to what it means and where it comes from? So I will proceed to explain. The aforesaid bundle containing 15 shirts and an equal number of dickies is a donation of the "Winthrop Sewing Circle" to the beneficiaries in Amherst College. It devolved upon me as Secretary of the Society to write the letter accompanying the package; so of course I chose rather to write to a friend rather than to a stranger. Will you do us the favor to take the care of distributing them? It is the wish of the Society that four of the shirts and four dickies should be given to Mr. Y.L. Dickinson, from Granby, who I believe is a member of the Senior Class. This gentleman once resided in the Crosby's family; he feels a particular interest in him, and desired that he should share in the distribution. The remainder we leave to be given according to the discretion and judgment of your society. I hope this will not be too great a tax upon your time, but I feel confident that you will not consider it as such, if you feel the same interest in the beneficiaries, as when I was in Amherst. As to the needle book, it was done in a Sewing Society, and to say that to one who has had so much experience in such matters, will be a perfectly reasonable way of accounting for all defects and deficiencies. Now I believe I have said all that is necessary upon the subject.
I have heard frequently from you this past winter, and am very glad to hear your health is improving. Cousin Ann usually reads us passages from your letters, which interest me exceedingly, as I then hear an account of the sayings and doings of your family circle.
How much I should like to see Miss Ann Scholfield Fiske dressed in her little blue apron embroidered with white; and take a walk with Helen out in the garden, if it is not too early in the season, but say to Helen I always think of her walking out in the garden gathering flowers and picking [collards?], but then I suppose that two years has produced quite a change in this respect, and I ought to think of her now sitting by the side of her mother sewing or reading some interesting book. There is a pretty little book called "The Way for a Child to be Saved", which if she has not read would I think be interesting and profitable for her to read. Does she go to Sabbath School? How I should like to have her in my class, with my little girls. Give my love to her, and as she has commenced writing letters I should be happy to receive one from her and then she can answer all my questions.
It will undoubtedly interest you, to hear of the revival, which we hope has but just commenced in Charlestown. It began in the Winthrop Society, it has been very still and quiet, about thirty conversions, it has extended to Dr. Fay's and about the same number there. In the midst of it Mr. Crosby's health began to fail, he found it necessary to leave us for a season. Which you can well imagine was a great affliction to us; he has been gone about three weeks, is expected to return however, this week.
And what do you think of Aunt Vinal's moving to Charlestown? Will it not be delightful! Uncle has really bought a house, and we hope will move into it when it is finished. And what if Mr. Hooker should come to Boston? and be settled at the Old South. These will be indeed wonderful changes.
The first part of this letter, relative to the shirts, I read to the managers of our circle; they wished me to state in addition, that there is among the beneficiaries a gentleman from Charlestown named Poor, and they would not wish to have any of the shirts given to him, as our Society intends making a debt expressly for him; and it would be better to give them to some who will not be so well provided for.
Mother sends her love to you. My kind remembrances to Mr. Fiske. It would give me great pleasure to have a letter directly from you if your time is not too much occupied.
Addressed: Mrs. Professor Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Boston, Mass, APR 14
Halifax 12th April 1836 Tuesday Eve.
My dear Cousin
Yours of the 4th was this day received, found me all in a bustle preparing for my journey to Boston, although a degree of uncertainty at present hangs over it, in consequence of Aroline's being unwell. she attended meeting on Fast day, and has not been able to go out since or hardly to get from her bed to the fire; she has had two very large biles, which have not only been extremely painful and troublesome, but have affected her health, causing faintness, sickness at the stomach and dizziness, with quite a degree of fever, and of course loss of appetite; they broke last night and will probably soon heal, but she had just got over one quite large one when these began to come, and she seems quite debilitated. -- If she was well, I would, to accommodate you, relinquish my own visit at Boston, and get her ready as well as I could, to go up with her Brother but I think as the case now stands, you might have cause to wish I had kept her with me -- we know not how long she may be afflicted in this way -- last fall, and along the first of the winter, she had two, and three at a time, untill they amounted to more than twenty - she bore them patiently, as every one said they were wholesome, and would carry off the bad humours which doubtless occasioned her sickness in the spring -- we concluded they had been an advantage, for she has enjoyed uninterrupted health the past winter -- but as they have broke out again, we feel that it would not be doing right by you or her, to send her to Amherst, untill we have given her medicine to work thoroughly in the blood, and find out whether she can be of any service to you or not -- thus you will see the probability of her leaving home any sooner, if so soon, as I at first named -- Am much obliged to you for the cap pattern, and much amused by your observations on the fashion which has of late been in vogue, I have ever approved the sight of them. I have not tried your pattern yet, but it seems to me it will be on the other extreme, and look like a crowers tail, after a hard shower; especially if there is to be a bow where it is pugged up behind -- were I to follow the dictates of my inclination, I would assume a more serious strain, and write more; but it is getting late -- My Husband sits patiently waiting for me to retire, and I must address a few lines to sister, so adieu dear Cousin for the present
Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
Tuesday Eve. past ten o'clock.
Dear Sister Jane,
I cannot fold this sheet, without addressing a few lines to you, I am sorry indeed to hear of your ill health. I had fondly hoped that the salubrious breezes of the western hills, would have prevented any return of your old complaints and am even now cheering myself with the hope, that you are ere this, quite well again -- Cousin informs me you think of visiting Mrs. Tillson, and I can now communicate to you what we have lately heard from them, by a letter from Mrs. T. she writes she has another Son about six weeks old, which weighed only five pounds and a few ounces at his birth; but little more than half as much as her other children weighed, that she is not as well as she usually is when at three weeks after her confinement. -- (I resume my pen at twelve oclock, having been called off to make motherowort tea, and heat earthen, for Aroline, who has had one of her spells of severe pain, such as she used to have occasionally last spring, but has not been troubled with them this winter at all) -- Mrs. Tillson says she has not been able to do her work since last fall; had Betsey with her, when she wrote, who was very anxious to get back to Halifax, she went up last fall with her Brother -- I fear if you should go there, you would have a poor chance to rest though I do not doubt they would be extremely happy to see you - I have this day received a letter from Brother N. in answer to me Mr. Pratt wrote him, wishing to know if he had moved, that I might know where to find him; he has moved into his own house in vine St. H. is on a visit at Randolph all well -- I wrote to Father last week, but have had no answer yet; no news from Brother Charles as I can learn. I likewise wrote to Aunt O.V. acknowledging her kind present of a netting Cap - I also wrote to Mrs. Tillson, and to Wm last week - and now I am very tired and sleepy, tomorrow must wash, could not wash on Monday, so much to do for A. - My letters look very bad, and need an apology, but time nor paper, nor in fact my eyes, will admit -- write as often as you can, and I will answer all your letters you may depend --
Your affectionate Sister
Miss J. Waterman
this letter is to be sent to Plymouth to be mailed, as there is no mail from here but once in a week, and that on Monday.
Addressed: Mrs. Nathan Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Care of Rev. L. H. Spofford.
[Wednesday] Marshfield April 27th 1836.
I hope you will excuse my presuming to write to one so much my superior in age, and abilities, on the ground of a promise which I made you when last you were at Marshfield, which was to write you as soon as I was able to write a legible hand, and it is not owing to forgetfulness, that I have not fulfilled my promise long before, but to a sense of my inability to perform the task, neither do I now feel myself equal to it, but having an opportunity of sending a letter directly to you by the hand of Mr. Spofford, I concluded to attempt it, trusting that you would not criticise upon my feeble endeavours. Many my dear friend, have been the changes within the circle of our friends, and acquaintances, since last you visited us; we have often been called to drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction in parting with our nearest, and best friends. Within the space of six short, fleeting years, I have been deprived of a beloved parent, both my grandparents, my sister Maria, and also her husband, besides several other more distant relatives, by the relentless hand of death; but it is to be hoped they have exchanged this vain, and transitory world, for one in which they will dwell in the presence of their God in happiness unspeakable to all eternity. Should this be their happy lot, we ought not to regret their being called away from the vain, and sordid pursuits of earth, to the enjoyment of unbounded felicity.
You will doubtless wish to hear what was the state of my grandmother's mind on the approach of death, to this I think I can say with safety, that she was perfectly resigned to the will of God, and willing to go whenever He saw fit to call her to Himself, she was uniformly calm and patient, throughout the whole of her sickness, she frequently spoke of you saying how much she wanted to see you and your children. My mother and myself, are now living with Aunt Deborah. My brother is married, has a very pleasant wife, and one child, a fine healthy boy of two years old, they live in the house that was formerly my fathers. Judith Clift has been very sick this winter, but is now so far recovered as to be able to attend to the domestick concerns of the family, her father and mother are quite feeble. Capt. T. Rogers and his wife, have moved into the other part of their house, to take care of them for life. Mr. Howland Rogers and wife, have moved into the house with Aunt Mary Clift, and her daughters. Should you wish to know anything more particular, concerning us or our friends you may probably gain some information respecting us from Mr. Spofford, who having officiated for some time as pastor over this parish, has quite an extensive acquaintance here, his removal from Scituate, has been much lamented by his friends, both there and in Marshfield. It would give us all much pleasure to receive a visit, or a letter, from you if you can make it convenient to favour us with either. My Mother and Aunt Deborah, with the neighbours generally, unite in kind respects to you, and your husband, with
Your sincere friend,
Rachel W. Rogers
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah V. Fiske, Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Boston, Ms, JUL 26
[Monday] Boston July 24th 1837.
My Dear Mrs. Fiske
I received your welcome letter on Friday evening, & if I had a less tender conscience should have complied with your request, & written on saturday, but I have made it a rule, not to put a letter into the Office on that day, & thus encourage wicked men in transporting them on the sabbath. - not that I think I can prevent the transportation of the mail, but I will not be an aid, & abetter, in thus profaning the day.
I give you many thanks for your letter, it was what I hardly expected, since I heard how it injures you to write. It sounded just like yourself, & I felt for a few moments as if I was sitting by your side, & enjoying your easy chat. I felt that I could scold, as well as you, on finding that one of your valuable letters were was lost, I don't know how you directed it, & it may show itself yet. I will say now, lest I forget it, that Mary Jenkins received a letter from you last week, & said she should answer it soon. -- by the way, that is a very pleasant family, & they are very near me, I find a good many good folks in Park St church, more than I expected. I was prepared to love Mrs. Holmes, & I regard her as pure gold. I often wonder why so good a woman, should have such trials but it may be these very trials have been the means of making her what she is. I have not visited very much, but have made calls in abundance. As to the kind of influence I am creating, you must draw your own conclusions, from what you hear about Boston from the papers & elsewhere. I cannot tell you of any good, I am doing, you know already what I have been, & I suppose there is no material alteration in my character, tho' perhaps some in my habits. I think you hardly give me credit for my numberless visits at your house. I am quite sure you had more than any body else. My situation here I regard as a responsible one, & one where since good might be done, by one who had a disposition to do it, & the requisite qualifications. I hope I am not entirely destitute of the former, & if I improve the one talent committed to me, I shall be approved of God, if not of man. I feel my weakness, & that of myself I can do nothing, but no work is too hard for God to perform, & he has promised to help those who trust in Him & to give them all they ask agreeably to His will.
Wednesday morn. I had written thus far, when husband brought me a stock to be repaired, that he wanted immediately, so my poor letter had to be laid aside till this morning. Yesterday I rode to Salem and passed the day, with husband & Susan, & I wish you would say to our folks at home, that I found them all comfortable. Sister Muny has been afflicted with rheumatism, & is still somewhat. She has rode out once - has a baby that cries two thirds, at least of the time, & help not the best.
The character you describe (& speak of as an acquaintance) I think must have existed only in your disordered imagination. I cannot think that poor human nature is sunk so low, poor ministers I know get dreadfully cheated sometimes, I feel sorry for such. They have an abundance of trials without this.
I trust ere this, peace is restored among you. I have heard a [shasting?] about you at College. & am surprised that such little matters should create a flame, Tho I know there is in such places, a great deal of combustible matter. How is Proff Condit? I have not heard his name since I came to B -- he was quite ill & it was feared he must leave his employment. I think a great deal of you all I assure you, though I have enough to employ my heart & hands, yet we cannot control the thoughts, at least I cannot; perhaps yours, are in better subjection.
Mr. Monroe you probably knew has removed to Newberry, & probably they will not return to the City. They have a delightful summer residence, but I think when winter comes, it will lose its charms. They think it will always be charming. We passed an hour with them a week or two since, & rambled with them over the road, & among the woods. Mrs. M - looks rather disconsolate, but perhaps it is owing to the state of her health. --
I have had eight nine calls, since I set down this time to write, & you must excuse the disconnected medley, & when it does you no hurt, write to me again, & if circumstances are favorable, I may write better. My love to the little girls. I am much obliged to Helen for her aff & invitation I think she does not know whether mu children would be an addition to yours. I should love to go to Amherst, but don't expect to at present. Give my kind regards to your husband. I remember him as one of my friends, & should like to have him come & see us. I hope my sisters remember that I have not heard from home in some time. Mr. & Mrs. Lindsley have been in this City & vicinity, this summer. I hardly know what they expect in these hard times. I have met Mrs. L. frequently.
You speak of your Father as though he was here. He has not been to church for quite a number of sabbaths, & we supposed he was at Amherst Mr. A - has tried to see him, but has failed as yet. He is not however discouraged. Your cousin Martha has called on me, but whether I shall ever go to Charlestown is uncertain. I should be very happy to see you here if it were not better for you to be at home.
Yours very Affectionately,
Sophie W.P. Aiken
Husband desires to be remembered to yourself & husband, you enquire if I have good help. I have two good consciencious girls apparently, & understand their business as well as girls generally. My nursery girl has no eyes, & of course cannot sew much, I need her for this
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske, care of Prof. N. Fiske, Amherst, Postmarked: Boston, Mass, AUG 10
Fav'd by Miss Jenkins
[In pencil -] As Mary has gone I must send this by Post.
[Wednesday] Boston, 9th August. 1837.
As I find you were so kind as to mention me in your letter to Mary J. my dear Deborah, I have the vanity to hope that a few lines may not be unacceptable, just to remind you of 'auld lang syne", if indeed you have time & inclination to think of those days, amidst present avocations & pleasures. Very probably, you are more frequently in my thoughts, than I am in yours - but we will -- this for the present & write as if you lived next door, before you met the "gentleman with spectacles," & had room in your kind heart, for spinsters like myself -- If it were possible, I should not hesitate to accept the invitation (was it? something of the kind, however,) to Commencement. I understood Mary that you asked if she could not bring me & some other friends to Amherst with her -- You are very kind, & indeed, my dear Deborah, nothing would better please me, than to find myself with you, & I should certainly take advantage of your remembrance, if there were nothing to prevent me from journeying about the country, as easily as our neighbors of Temple St. But this kind of pleasure has always been very sparingly allotted to me -- Perhaps I should enjoy it too much -- No doubt "all is for the best", in this respect, as in all others. - but you may be sure, to visit you, would give me sincere pleasure -- Many a time have I tried to imagine you in Amherst, giving you a "local habitation," that I might know how to think of you, as in that pleasant town -- I have heard enough of it to know that it is pleasant. & I so dislike the noise & bustle of a city, & love the country so dearly, that any place that is like it, would have charms for me. When I hear of persons changing a city residence for the country, I think they are going to see their best days -- & when the contrary, I absolutely pity them their loss of the sweet, pure air, & the lovely calm & quiet, that they will never find again -- besides various other losses & crosses that they will surely meet, sooner or later.
I dare say you will tell me, that there are both loses & crosses everywhere, & no mortal may expect to be exempt from them on this side heaven -- & hardly would a Christian wish it, if he would have his daily prayers for growth in grace answered. -- I suppose the truth is, with regard to troubles, the difference is more in kind, than in numbers -- but still it does seem that the country possesses a soothing power - & where can you find much to soothe in the city?
I always think of the old saying, "God made the country, & man made the town."
Since I saw you, your Aunt Vinal has left our neighbourhood, much to our regret, as we cannot now see her, often. -- Indeed I have not yet been to Charlestown since she has been there. One principal reason is, that my mother has been more ill than usual this spring & summer, & for many weeks, I went out very little. -- She had the Influenza first, & it really proved its right to the title of "the Grip" -- We all had it severely - & Mother, being such an invalid, could not throw it off, easily, then dyspepsia invaded her illness. You do not know how dull & low spirited I was, to see her so ill. She is better now, but is still feeble,& indeed, now has a well day -- I hope you & yours are all well, & that we may hope to see you in Boston soon. -- I suppose, however, that Charlestown would engross all your time. I hear that your Aunt & family are now at Falmouth, so I must still defer my call -- We have not yet become much acquainted with your friend, Mrs. Aiken -- & but little with Mr. A -- It is but lately that we have called on her, as I waited till Mother was able, & it is an effort to her, to go anywhere --
If you could see how the flies are "plaguing" me, this close, dog-day weather, you would wonder how I contrive to keep patience sufficient to carry me through so much scribbling, if you did not recollect that the letter was for yourself -- However, you may think I am only following the fhis' example, & pursuing the teasing system - & for fear you shd make sundry reflections on "evil communications," I will spare you, for this time -- Mother desires to be affectionately remembered to you. -- Remember us also to your husband, & ask him to bring you to Boston, forthwith. --
See that Mary & Nate behave well, while they are with you, & do send a letter by them, to your affectionate
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
Answered February 22nd 1838 [Thursday]
Sunday Eve Dec. 9 1837.
[error in date; should be Dec 10]
Dear Cousin Deborah.
I was ignorant of the cause of your silence until I read the letter you wrote to Sister E. knowing from what little correspondence, I have had with you, that you have always paid your debts promptly.
I have not received a letter from you, since your father came from Amherst, last spring, if you have written since then, I wish to know it. Mother recived one from you at the same time, respecting Mr. Bachelder, both of which I answered in one letter, I handed them it to Brother Otis giving him one at the same time to go to New York, neither of which were mailed, directed, it is so long since, he has no recollection of it. I presume the letter is traversing the world, in search of an owner. I hardly dare tell you, I have been to Westminster, since I wrote you I intendended when I left Boston to come to Amherst, but it was so late, on the season, before I made my my visit out there, and so cold, being the last of Oct. I concluded it was best to come home, the shortest way, and defer my next visit in the country till warmer weahter. Next spring if I live, and nothing happens, I shall certainly make you a visit. If you are not so much offended with me, that you do not want to see me. I should not blame you if you were, I have made you so many promises, I expect you think I do not want to come, but I certainly do. I know I should enjoy myself so well, rambling round with you. I have not forgotten the promise you made me, while at D. you must have the gentleman in readiness. I have kept the bonnet and shoes with that expectation. I suppose it will not do to ask you to come to Boston, your Father is so much opposed to it. How is your health now? are you troubled with the Dyspepsia? This seems to be a general complaint among the Vinal's. and a most trying complaint it is. it makes me so cross, I can hardly bear to be spoken to.
I guess you will think paper is a scarce article with us, this is all we had in the house, and I did not like to send out being Sunday, to get more. You must excuse my writing to you on Sunday, but I knew I should not have time, before your Father left the City in the morning. I do not make a practice of writing letters on Sunday. I should like to fill up my paper, but it is growing dark, and I must bid you good bye, and go about my tea. Our girl is sick a bed and we are our own maids now. Do write me as soon as you can, and give me a description of that gentleman, if you have selected one. Friends all well, and send love to you and Mr. F. Please kiss your two little Daughters for me. I tried to persuade D. to write to Hellen but she thought her writing would be so much inferior, to hers, she would laugh it. I expect I shall be obliged to wear glasses before a great while my eye sight is so poor. If you can make out to read this scrawl I shall be very glad. If I thought you had any criticks at Amherst, I should be tempted to copy this off again, but knowing that you are possessed of so much charity, I will venture to send it, praying hoping that you will burn it, as soon as you have read it.
Your affectionate Cousin
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass
Answered January 29th
[Friday] Woburn January 5th 1838.
Dear Mrs. Fiske,
Our Female Charitable Society have prepared a few articles for the Beneficiaries of your College, which you will please to dispose of according to your judgment. We should have filled a larger box for them, but our attention the past season has been turned to Mt. Holyoke Institution, for which we have been busy. I succeeded in getting two rooms furnished there, beside other articles.
We were happy in seeing your good husband here this summer, though very sorry to have so short a visit, which by the way he promised to lengthen by another short one on his way from Andover. I hope he will reserve more time for us when he comes this way again, & if it pleases God to spare all our lives it would afford us great pleasure to see you both here together - or if you should again visit your friends separately, then I hope you will each remember to include us among the friends you visit.
You may have heard of the dangerous illness with which I was attacked three weeks after your husband was here at which time I was quite well as I had been during the summer and continued to be untill my new attack of pulmonary difficulties.
The day previous I was out on a begging excursion for Mt. Holyoke felt no unusual fatigue on account of my walk, but after sleeping well during the night, began at an early hour in the morning to expectorate blood quite freely for six days. Then it ceased & I have since been rapidly gaining to the surprise of my friends & physicians. I am now quite comfortable though feeble - have been able to attend Church four half days & to resume my labours in the Sabbath School. I have surely great reason to be humble & grateful that God has dealt so kindly in his chastisement & in judgment remembered mercy. My health has been so precarious of late that it seems as if one foot stood upon life, the other upon death. What God designs to do whether to continue life & protract disease - or to destroy - or to heal - remains among the uncertainties of futurity but of one thing there is a certainty that I am in the hands of Him who does all things well, & knows infinitely better than his short-sighted creatures what is best for them. -- I was reading the other day in B.B. Edwards book of self taught men the account of R. Baxter who though attacked at the early age of seventy-five sixteen with cough spitting blood, lived to the advanced age of seventy five. His oft repeated sicknesses quickened him in being good & doing good - most of his writings were penned under the impression that he was about to die -- Would that all similarly afflicted might be thus benefitted.
I am a firm believer in the opinion discarded by many, that lung diseases are sometimes enviable. It is stated by the Boston Medical Journal that cases have occurred in this vicinity of persons who have exhibited strong marks of consumption, who have recovered and after the lapse of years have died of some other disease, & on a post mortem examination the scars discernable upon the lungs, showed that tubercles of a large size once existed there, & which owing to some cause were happily removed. Probably such cases are not very common. But enough have transpired that none need despair, & but few that none ought to presume. But the impression which is sometimes received that a disease is incurable may in some instances render it more difficult of [paper missing]
How is friend Woodman getting along? When you write to inform me that you have received the box, please ask your husband what information you shall give about the individual who shared so largely in his conversation with Mr Bennett. We think that he is now doing very well, & that he has profited as we most of us may from experience.
Mr B unites with me in respects to your husband & yourself. Should you hear from me as sinking under another attack of bleeding be assured a letter from either or both of you would be consolatory. I was very much gratified by the reception of letters from several friends as soon as they heard of my sickness - particularly one from the Rev. Mr. Chickering of Portland. But I have lengthened my epistle unseasonably. Yours affectionately
List of articles contained in the box
12 shirts 6 pr socks.2 pair of sheets -
Comforter given by our late Dea Gardner made for his son Henry four years since to carry to Amherst - but just as he was fitted to enter he was seized with consumption & died in three months. The father, mother, brother, & sister all eminently pious died within the last four years, of consumption
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske.
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I have been making some Diet Bread - please to have some of it - I wish that you may not expect to find it any-thing extraordinary, for if you do you will be disappointed. If you, in your kindness send me all manner of good things, you will allow me, faintly though it be, to manifest my gratitude. Mother and I feel anxious to hear of the state of the inmates of your Hospital, in regard to health.
How is Mr. Fiske? Has your Father recovered How is your own health? I thought of all the patients in your abode, you appeared the most blooming, save your little Anne, but I well know blooms are deceitful - often the result of fever, rather than the effect of rosy Health!
Sister Fanny expects to go to Hartford the last of next week. I hope you will feel like writing a letter to Mrs. Terry, by her. I will thank you not to mention that Fanny is going - because she is not as yet, quite decided about it. If she goes she will pass a week there. I obtained a letter from Mary yesterday - she wrote from Stratford where she is making brother George a visit. Brother G & wife will visit us in April. In Mary's letter she sent a receipt for making "Whigs" - I thought you might like to have it - so I have copied it for you. Now, you will wish to know what Whigs for to - eat are? --let me tell you then. The Stratford people are many of them rich, fashionable and luxurious - much like the inhabitants of New York City, for Stratford seems in reality like one of the suburbs of this City. A "Whig" is a kind of light sweetened biscuit peculiar to Stratford and along with Tea used instead of simple Bread, & with Coffee two, frequently. These "Whigs" are delicious.
Mother unites with me in love to you all affectionately yours,
Ann Elizabeth Shepard.
Tuesday March 1838
From Hannah I got a letter on Friday she says Mrs. Lee has returned - and that in the Charleston Insane Hospital she met Mrs. Worcester, an inmate, that the lady made many enquiries about her, of Mrs. Lee. Now did you know that Mrs. W was there? - an excellent place for her, I think. You know Mrs. Lee is deeply interested in the Charleston Hospital - and 'tis not strange. I have an uncle in that Institution - my mothers brother - he has been there many years. -
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Boston, Mas. APR 19
[Tuesday] Boston, April 17th 1838.
When I received your letter I threw it into my work basket, thinking I would answer it immediately, and there it has been ever since reproaching me for neglect, towards one, who has always manifested so great an in interest in my happiness. I have thought much of you, and the kind advice which you have given me, in your letters, from time to time, although I do not feel interested in the subject of Religion myself I never feel offended with any one for introducing the subject, if it is done at a proper time, and in a proper place. My health is better now than when I wrote you last, I have been particular about my diet for some time, I suppose you will say I wonder, if she has followed my prescription, I can tell you that I have with the exception of one thing, and that is coffee I am like the man that drinks his grog I can do without eating, if I can only have my coffee. I am trying to leave it off by degrees, I used to drink it twice a day and drink it very strong, now I do not allow myself but one cup, and that I take two thirds milk, I suppose you will say there is no cure for me unless I will give up coffee entirely. Cousin Nathaniel has the Dyspepsia most horribly, his Doctor tells him he has poisoned himself with coffee, but rather think, if he knew his domestic troubles, he would attribute it partly to that. Cousin Eunice has been up to make her spring purchases. Martha is quite unwell, she is making preparations to go into the country, to spend the summer, she wants to come to Amherst, but Aunt thinks she had better not go so far from home, I think she will eventually go to Weston, I am glad to hear you are coming to make us a visit this spring, do come soon for I am afraid if you do not you may find us all in the alms house. Papa is very poor, he is losing all his property, and we are all coming to want, if his mind is not relieved soon, I dare not say, what I think will be the result, it grieves me very much to see him so melancholy, I feel very sorry he ever gave up business he has not been happy since. I suppose your Papa will return soon. I hope if he is at all inclined to the blues, or Hippo, he will leave them all in Amherst, and come home in good spirits, perhaps that will cheer Papa up a little, You made some inquiries in your letter, about Aunt Beck Mrs F and her baby &c. I should judge from appearances that Aunt Beck was getting along very well, they say seem to be comfortably clothed, and fed, and all seem happy. Mrs Field I rather think, feels a little more humble than when you saw her, her husband has not failed, but I rather think he has done worse, he says he has lost all he had made since he has been here. His family has been very expensive, since the baby was born, they have had a Wet Nurse in the house a year, at $300 per week. She will find the best of folks cannot get through this world without some exertion. Your Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, so far as I know are all well, and send love to you, I should have excepted Sarah, she has not been well all winter, but she will be better I hope in a few weeks, her complaints are nothing unusual, among the married ladies (as your Papa told me about you) I would write you a longer letter, if I were not afraid of trying my eyes too much. I am afraid you will need some one to interpret this it is so illegibly written. I have penned my thoughts, just as they happened to pop into my head. I shall expect a letter from you soon, write me respecting your health particularly.
Mary S. Vinal
I hope you do not preserve my letters, if you have any respect or me, do burn them.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Postmarked: Boston, Mas, OCT 24
Boston Wednesday Oct 23. 1838.
[Tuesday, Oct 23, 1838]
I expect you will think I am ugly indeed, because I have not done, as I said I would, when I left you, I did not mean, to tell such a fib (but as true as I live) I have been so driven, that I have hardly had time to think of you. I am going to tell you, how true you prophecied, respecting my journey . After I left your house, I took possession of the back seat, and had a good nap, from which I was awoke, by some one, who said (Are you going to Boston Marm) I opened my eyes and saw a green looking fellow, whom I took to be a pedlar (from his baggage.) he tried hard to make himself agreeable, said he was going to the City, he hoped for a pleasant day &c. but I was as whist as a cat, for I knew the man had been drinking. I rode 4 miles with him and saw no more of him afterwards. We had two stages, from Belchertown, and only one female beside myself, and she had a gentleman with her, she was so delighted with him, she could not look at any one else, she either had her head in his lap, or he his arms round her neck, the whole day. I concluded they were a new married couple, I had a great fat Irishman on the back seat with me, and a Negro as black as jet, directly opposite on the forward seat, the rest of the company were gentlemen, who appeared to be in a driving hurry, who cared for nothing but to get along fast, they said, they were sleepy, and they yawned, and gaped at another, till I was so provoked, I wished I had taken your advice, more than once. but the thought that I was going home, reconciled me, to every thing was disagreeable. We took the cars at H. and glad enough was I to see some one that was civil. Otis was at the depot, with a hack, to take me and my baggage. I stopped at Mr. Aikins, on my way home, and left Mrs Washburn's letter, and arrived at home, safe and sound, 20 minutes before 8. found the folks all well. Your Papa was there waiting for my arrival, I gave him your letter (he read it and says) Deborah will work, and talk, and that is the reason why she has so many ill turns. I took your part, and told him you would be better in a few days. Mother looks as though she would blow away, she has worked her flesh all off. I started off in pursuit of a girl, the next week, but good help is not to be found at any price. We have prevailed upon Betsey to defer getting married a few weeks, and come and assist us, till we can come out get some one, she came last night, and gives us a little encouragement, that she will stay all winter. Sarah, and Eliza Ann, have been without help, more than a week, we have succeeded in finding help for them, (such as it is). I feel sorry she is in a family way so soon, she expects to be sick in January, she feels so bad about she says she cannot help crying, because she thinks she shall not be able to nurse again. We blessed Old Maids have no such trouble. I went to Charlestown on Saturday, Aunt Vinal is quite unwell she has a lame back, she thought it was the rheumatism, but Martha thinks she has over done herself, they have had 3 girls since they came home, and been without half of the time. Jane is with them now. I went to Gideon's, he had just met with an accident, in splitting wood, his axe slips, and cut his great toe almost in two. Sarah sent immediately for Dr. Thompson, he put it in place and ordered balsam, and warm baths, said it was a bad wound, but if he was careful, and kept perfectly still a fortnight it would not trouble him much afterwards. I called at Mr. Scholfield's, took your silks and sent them to the dye house, Mrs. Billings, thinks they will make very pretty bonnets for the children. I am sorry you did not give me the measure, of their heads. I think I had better have them made larger, and then you can add a little pad in the crown, but if they are too small, they cannot be altered. Charles, and Nathaniel's families are well, I have called on Abby, she seemed very dull, I expect Charles behaves very bad. I should not wonder if she left him bye and bye, after she gets over her confinement. I have not been to Chelsea, but from what Aunt Beck says, I should think Mr. Field, and Antoinette, were very unreconciled to the death of their child, they cast a great many reflections upon Jane. Antoinette says she was the sole means of its death, because she did not do as Aunt Beck told her to, with regard to a physician, Jane feels as though she done right. I wish you would write to them I think it would do them good. I forgot to ask you for that book you said you wanted to send to her.
Martha has sent word this morning, she has received a letter from you and you are better. I am very glad to hear it, and now I hope you will be careful of yourself, and not drive round, so like Jehu, I think Mr. Fiske had better tie you down. I do not believe there is any other way to keep you still. I can preach to you, with a good grace, as long as you are 90 miles off, but if you could look in upon me, you would say, (Look at home) I have had a real Vinal drive, come over me since I came home, but I have resolved this morning, I will not do so any more, for I have made myself down sick, I have tried to do so much, at sewing, cleaning house, &c. Give my best love, and a kiss for each of the children. Tell Ann that little boy who fell out the window, is almost well, he is so well that he is playing round house, with his little brothers and sisters. Remember me to Mr. F. Mrs Smith, Mary, and Mr. Stearns. Charles and Deborah send love to the children and thank them for their presents. Father and Mother send much love to you and Mr. Fiske. Father seems to be in good health and tolerable spirits he is full of going to Vermont. Mr. May from W. is now visiting us. Good bye. Write very soon.
Write particularly respecting your health. Have you seen Mr K?
Addressed: Mrs. Professor Fiske, Amherst College
[Sunday] Hatfield Dec 16th 1838
My Dear Mrs. Fiske
I have been looking out for a fortnight almost for an opportunity to send you a little roll for your Missionary box, but have heard of none until today, when I saw one of your students in the church and importuned him to take charge of it. I was rather scrupulous about writing a note on the sabbath, so I delayed hoping I should have time to scribble a few lines after sunset before he would call. But I had only written your name when he rapped and was in great haste, so I must send it along without even being able to tell you how ashamed I am to be obliged to add such a pittance to your box. Divers and sundry apologies I should make in behalf of our good ladies if I could see you, such as that the request came in a bad time when all were engaged in making pies and cake for thanksgiving and that since, much indispensable sewing and writing has been to the done, all which excuses amount to nothing more than this that they thought the object a good one and wished you success, but had not sufficient zeal to accomplish any thing themselves. We had a few pairs of little stockings in our sewing society when we became "so wicked" as to let it die and we thought best to have them doing good if possible. I believe there are nine or ten pairs in the bundle. You speak of only two children in the mission families. They of course can not wear out so many before they are outgrown but I think - judging from the common course of things that there will be more if there are not already. You however are so much better qualified to judge of the probabilities in that case than I am that I leave it to your discretion whether to send them all.
How is your health now? I am anxious to hear that your blisters and poultices have proven true friends and that by their means you have become reinstated in our former state of health. When shall we see you? I have a great desire to go to Amherst, and am not without hope that I shall accomplish it after the rivers become strong. Though I am fearless and have no prospect of ever being better off in that respect. I was quite unwilling that all intercourse with our good friends at A. should cease because George has left; we have not seen a face from there yet. Mr. Tyler called one day when we were all away and we heard of him and Mr. Field - yesterday as having their faces set this way.
Whether they intended to give us a call I cannot say, but flatter ourselves myself that only the doubtful state of the river prevented. We have heard but once from George he had then been but a day or two as our brother's in Newark and could say nothing of his prospects. Do write me a letter if you cannot come and see me; sister Abby sends love, and my good friend Miss Warner says "I should love to send my love to Mrs. Fiske if it will do."
I intend to visit my brother in Leicester after a few weeks.
You have not told me yet whether it is proper to send love to Mr. Fiske. I would say give him my regards but that sounds rather too cold.
We are a family of great minds. For proof of this you have only to look at our penmanship. I could give you a pretty good apology for this scrawl, [paper missing] I am writing upon a little candlestand with Abby on the other side, with room only to lay the ends of our paper and as you may suppose a continual jostling going on and almost constant talking, but I am afraid I shall write again at some future time under more favorable circumstances and prove that after all the fault is in myself. How do you get along without Lucy?
Most truly and affac.ly Your friend
[Friday] Boston, Jan'y 11th 1839.
My Dear Mrs. Fiske
Forget me if you can, but remember, you have not quite so much control over your memory, as your temper. I don't find it an easy matter, to remember, & forget, just what I please; neither will you.
I rejoice to find that you are alive, & notwithstanding all my fears, will live sometime yet, if a flow of fine spirits will prolong life. How you continue to be so happy, & make others so, when in a state of suffering, I cannot divine. I wish you would give me some lessons on the subject, unless you think me too old to learn. Your letter this morning quite revived me, tho' when Mr. P - came in, & all this live long day, I have been suffering with sick head ache, a former companion, that has kept quite at a distance from me, since I have been a resident in this great City. I impart it now, to this debilitating weather, which seems like April. We had our winter in November. My head ought to be on my pillow, but our family are all at meeting, except the "bairns" & hoping to forget myself a little, I have thought, that holding my pen & head, at the same time, (for I have two hands,) would be some gain to me, tho' perhaps a loss to you. I write now, more particularly, for the sake of telling you how sorry I am that your letter was not a few days earlier. Our Sewing Circle meet but once a month, & yesterday we had a full meeting at Mrs. Hubbard's, where I should have been happy to have presented your object. We raised the last year $1.20. 1.00 of which, we appropriated to City Missions, & yesterday voted to the Infant School Society, the remaining 20. At the annual meeting in December, we made a new arrangement in the Circle. Instead of making clothing, fancy articles, working muslin, & & which we find rather difficult to dispose of, each member is to furnish her own work, (carry her husbands coat to mend if she chooses) & pledge to the Circle, beside her annual subscription $2.00. or less, if she cannot afford this, but none less than 1.00. I don't wish to excuse myself from any effort for this object. I will call on some of our good ladies, & see if any thing can be done for Ooroomiah. I have only stated facts with regard to our Circle, without consulting any one, & for myself, see not how as a Circle, we can do any thing, but perhaps wiser heads than mine, can devise some plan by which to help your cause. I suppose where you have one call on your benevolence, we have ten, but no matter how many, if we can with right feelings, meet them. --- but I hear husband coming, & I must close, with a good night.
Monday Morn. Morning it was, when I opened my desk to write, but I have had three gentlemen, & one lady to hinder me, until the clock has struck twelve. My head (which was a part of my subject on friday eve is now well, which I have not been able to say for three days, altho' I went to church all day, to hear my husband. As I was coming out of meeting, who should present herself but Mrs Robinson from Walpole, who you recollect spent a summer with Mrs Moore. She is as fat & pleasant as ever, she inquired about Amherst friends, & I answered her in brief, as I don't like to talk much, on such occasions. I suppose I have just got to march up Fort-hill, & make her a call. How much of this business, we have to do here; sometimes I get almost tired of it. You ask about the Jenkins's, I can only say, they are here, doing as usual. What keeps them here, no one knows. We are invited there to tea this afternoon, with only a few friends. -- They do not make parties, but in every other way, live as formerly. Joseph & wife have been at Barre a part of the winter, but are now here, he doing as much business as usual.
I love them, & feel badly at the thought of their removal, but know that they cannot live so, a great while.
You say you are expecting your Father. I supposed he had been with you all winter. I have not seen him at meeting, & he does not come to see us, which we should be very happy to have him do. Our church is wonderfully improved, you would not know it. I hope when your good husband comes here again, he will try his lungs in it. Will he not be here this winter? I don't ask you to come, till spring.
There is nothing among us particularly interesting at the present time. Our meetings are full, & people apparently hear with attention, but the most solemn & awakening truths, seem to make little impression. How true it is, that without the special Influences of God's spirit, all means are ineffectual, to the conversion of the soul.
President Mahern from Oberlin, is preaching at the free church this winter. A great deal of which is on perfectionism, but perhaps he will not do any hurt, & I hope he will, some good.
I was pained to see the death of Mrs Brown. Her family must be deeply afflicted, as well as the people among whom her lot was cast. -- but "God's ways are not as ours." & He can make all things to work for their good".
If you see Mrs Baker, Senior, I wish you would remember me affectionately to her. I am sorry it has not been in my power to see her, when I have been home. I should love to see Prudence & Dorothy. My love also to Mrs Hitchcock, Snell, Nelson &c
Susan will remember you in my next sheet. Yours very truly,
It is the first time that I have written to any of my friends I believe, & subscribed my name Aiken. I shall write more, & as much as you will come from, when I have consulted with regard to Ooroomiah.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, By Mr. Bancroft.
Wednesday Jan 16 1839.
I am going to Roxbury to-morrow to spend a few days, so I thought I would get my letter, and bundle, ready, and leave them at Bancroft's house, before I went, and not have him go and leave it, as your Papa did. I presume you thought very strange of my not writing. I will tell you how it happened. I was in Charlestown that week, and told Gideon to inquire of your Papa when he should go, he said Friday Morning. I came home Thursday Noon, tied up your books, wrote a little note, and expected he would call before he left. I suppose it was owing partly to forgetfulness, and his great aversion to transporting budgets. I did not get your bundle till Saturday. Bancroft called about 10 O'clock, he was in such a hurry he could not come in, so I did not have the pleasure of seeing the gentleman. I shall call at his house to leave my bundle, possibly I may see him, yet but "never mind" there is good luck for Milly yet. I am really glad Mr K. is engaged. I feel quite encouraged, now the younger ones have taken a start, the maiden ladies, and widowers have kept the minister's at work long enough. I have bought the dolls, they are not very handsome, nor do they fit the clothes exactly. I guess you will have to adopt Old Style again, and make clothes to fit tho babies. Mrs. Field was in Charlestown, visiting her Mother last week. She is the most dejected looking person I ever saw. Mr Field has become dissipated, and treats her unkindly, at times. I pity her, but still I think, her imprudence has in some measure caused it. I believe Mr Field has been a likely young man, and would have made a good husband, if she had made a happy home for him. His family has been expensive, he has got in debt, and feels discouraged. Uncle Beck intimates as though they would separate in the spring but I should think, it would be very degrading to her, to be obliged to work for her living, she must feel more humble, than she ever has. "perhaps I judge her wrongfully. I hope I do." I do not rejoice over the troubles of any one. I should think it was no more than what she might expect, if she has any conscience at all. I think Aunt Beck, feels as bad as any one about it, she has always looked up to Mr Field, for advice, and loved him as well, as if he had been her own Son. Eliza Ann has another Son, it was born last week Friday. Cousin Abby has a Son, born Christmas Day, I have not seen it, Mother says it is as pretty, and as fair, any child. I do hope it will be a healthy child, it will be so gratifying to Abby. Charles has done admirably well, since she has been sick, excepting the first day or two. Jane is going to leave Aunt Vinal, as soon as Mary Barker, comes to take her place. I do feel sorry for poor Jane, she feels very sad at time, she says she if Allice could only go with her, she would like to go where she should never be seen or heard of again. Miss Hadley is trying to get a place for her. I want Deborah to write to Helen, but she is not well, and rather peevish, she thinks if she gets her music lessons, it is quite as much as she can attend to, she has a gentleman come twice a week to instruct her, perhaps she will alter her mind before I tie up my bundle. Charles and Deborah, send love, and a Happy New Year to the children. Charles was a very naughty boy, the day the chestnuts came, he was sick, but he was so offended because he could not have them all at once, he cried and stamped like a crazy person. I suppose Ann, and Helen will think this was very wicked, he was very sorry to think he behaved so naughty. I hope he never will do so again. Cousin Harriet was with Eliza Ann, she makes herself useful, and seems happy, she will stay till April, if nothing happens. I shall have to stop writing, and bid you good-bye, my eyes begin to ache, my writing grows crooked, and I am tired. The nine-pence you will find in this letter, squares up our many affairs without much gain, on either side I believe. Love and a Happy New Year, for your Papa, self, and family. Do Mrs. Smith and Mr. Benjamin, make any advances towards matrimony? If you are well enough to write let me hear from you quite soon?
Yours truly M.S. Vinal.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Massachusetts, Mr. Richardson
[Friday] New York Jan. 18, 1839
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I am inclining to the opinion that true modesty and suitable deference to your Ladyship does not require me longer to delay writing to you. You must know how very unwilling I should be to write so soon after my departure from the hills of Hampshire as to seem bold and presuming. I confess to you as a friend what I could not to all that nature has not endowed me with the veneration for the great and good that she has many others, but I strive by every outward appearance to make up for any natural deficiency in this respect. I presume you have not yet discovered but I have an awful regard for any thing that can be called great, and am ready to bow with the most profound reverence at the smallest shrine of goodness - but you may never have heard that the perfection of art is to conceal art. Notwithstanding this natural deficiency my reverence has been excited to such a degree when thinking of writing to you that I could not dare to get about my writing apparatus.
I have heard of your ill health and seize upon the wish that excites to express my condolence as a pretext for this bold act. I cant conceive what induced you again to hunt up the sick gown, and betake yourself to the easy chair. You must always have a touch of every thing that is passing, and in this case call back what has already passed, I could express scores of sympathy but think it would have been much more opportune when you were taking the Dovers Powders "once in six hours followed by a little salts or oil". Was there ever a living man who lacked his consideration to compound more detestable material than this said Dr. Dover? And all the jelly you will, or do what you can, they do excite an unaccountable disposition to make any faults. Power to the memory of the good man, though he has chosen a miserable way to immortalize himself. You certainly enjoy more of sympathy of friends than usually falls to the lot of man or woman. It is all heartfelt - we are always ready to fill both ears with words of condolence. We only wish we were not called upon quite so often to do it. Seriously, I want very much to know how you are. I hope you are not to be shut up the whole winter from the pure air of heaven. If you winter in Massachusetts is as warm and pleasant as south was it will almost lure you to look out. Either there is great difference in the climate of New York and Amherst, or this winter is unusually warm. I should think I had not worn a cloak more than half of the time since I came here and have often been uncomfortably warm walking in it.
Would you like to know what I am doing here? I am according to Prof. Stuarts ideas showing to an uncommon degree my Native Depravity, for he you must know after a faithful, and long continual examination of Native Depravity found it consists two thirds of indolence. I have never heard what other ingredients he found, perhaps it was merely the inheritance we received from our first Parent, the propensity to sin that the Theologians talk so much about. If so I dont know that I have shown more than usual, this inclination, unless it may be one evening when I was caught in a dancing party which we in our land of steady habits, and State of the Pilgrims, are taught to consider as hardly Orthodox. I managed though to keep on a very long face, and look with the most perfect sobriety upon the follies of youth. I certainly never accomplished so little in so long time, when well, and yet I am busy. I rise late, breakfast late - and read a little, walk, eat dinner, then it is nearly dark, sit and talk, tea, see, read, write, see company, or visit and then to my room. My time though has passed very pleasantly. You have never seen Mrs. Post, but can take my word that she is a remarkably fine woman and although she has been sick almost all the time has made my time pass very pleasantly and rapidly. Not so much so though as to lead me to forget those "heaven kissing hills" at the North, or those friends who live among them. My sleep is every night made more sweet by dreams of some of those loved ones, and my waking reveries are filled with their images. The older I grow the more anxious I find myself when away from home lest something should happen, as if it was in my power to ward of disease or death. Tis a peculiar pleasure I find in trusting all friends with one who can avert accident or death.
Dr. Brown's family has been severely afflicted since I left. I anticipated the best and with a very sad heart bade adieu to Mrs Brown. Sarah has written to me ever since her Mother's death. She seems very sad and lonely. I am sorry you cannot see her, she values so much every call from her friends. I am very anxious lest she should mourn so much as to injure her own health. She seems to posses a Christian Spirit - and a calm resignation to the will of the Lord. but it is very natural that she should when alone allow lay grief to drink up her spirits.
If I could think of a sovereign remedy I would add another to the hundreds that every woman you know has told you, but I must leave you with my good wishes. Give my love to D. Dickinson - and do not allow her to go in the spring. I think it is ridiculous for every girl that is valued in the town where she lives, to be married and fly off. My very particular remembrances to your good husband and love to the children to say nothing of all other friends.
I did not think I should venture to write so long an epistle to you but I give you permission to read only so much as is consistent with your dignity.
As ever your affectionate, exasperated tho' friend, Lucy Humphrey
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Mr Peabody
[Saturday] Boston Jan 19th 1839.
Dear Mrs. Fiske,
I have taken half of a sheet, lest I should be tempted to write too much, & be the occasion of one more blister on your poor chest. I hope you will appreciate my benevolence.
I have brought the subject of your letter before several ladies, who seem willing to contribute a trifle, such as a neeedlebook, or a pin cushion, or emery, & I trust you will be grateful for these. Mrs. Homes thinks it is not worth while for us to sit about making garments for the Mission families, tho' we can do something in the way of presents, for the school. The truth is, so much of that thing has been done here of late, that people are tired & say they want to rest a while.
I wish you to inform me soon, how much time you will give us for doing any thing as something will depend on this. How soon do you send your box? You must not have large expectations, if you do, you will be disappointed. I shall keep Mrs P-s letter & map for the present. I hope you are prudent & take good care of yourself. I should like to step in, & see you.
Remember me affectionately to your husband & children. Susan sends her love to you, & says, she remembers Mrs. Fiske.
Affectionately yours, Sophie.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Politeness of Mr. Parsons.
[Saturday] Weston Jan 19 1839.
I was very glad to receive your letter two days since, but was sorry to hear that you was confined to the nursery, hope with the assistance of your good friend, nurse and a few friendly visits from Doct. Gridley, you have now obtained your usual health, and are able to go out and ride.
We were again glad to hear by Mr. [ ], and to have an opportunity to send your drawer and a few things to Mary.
Mary I presume pases spends her time pleasantly, and I hope profitably to herself, she is now old enough to realize the importance of improving time as it flies, and that a privilege lost cannot be obtained again. Your family will be pretty large when Josiah gets back and your father is with you, but I suppose while you can keep Mrs. Smith things will go ahead if you are sick or well. I think cousin Sarah was a little disappointed in not going to Amherst last autumn I think it is quite probable you will have the visit next spring; if her health is as good as it is now, she will make herself quite useful, she is spry with her needle and claims the privilege of sewing for those she is with, she has been a great help to Mr Fiske, she is visiting in Concord and perhaps will go to Bedford and Billerica before she returns to Weston.
I am sorry to hear that Martha Vinal is out of health, she seems to be a child of complaint, I should like to go there very much, have not been to Charlestown since last summer, I mean to go the first opportunity I have, but do not know when that will be. [ ] is spending the winter with his Mother, she will like to have him stay as long as he will keep steady. Mrs. Bennetts health is about as usual, saw her a few weeks since, she looked about as well as before this last attack of bleeding.
We had a letter from Alonzo last week I think he is not quite as content as he was in warm weather, he thinks Calais is rather dreary in cold days, he will probably come back in the spring, and if no better opportunity offers itself go into the store, it is shut up now, and has been for some time. S. has so much wood to team he cannot attend to it, and John has as much as he can attend to, about his farm, he is about building a barn, getting the timber &c.
Father's health is remarkable good this winter, he keeps out all the time. I have written this badly and have not time to write much more, but as you will not have to pay a nine pence for it, you must not say a word. Give love to your husband, Mary, Helen, Ann, &c, from your affec sister
If it is good sleighing when Mary's term is out I mean to try to persuade her father to go after her, it will be pleasanter for him than to come home in the stage.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske.
My dear Mrs. Fiske.
Your note of last week was truly acceptable, it gave me great pleasure to find it so long, & I hasten to reply to its contents. In the first place then, you of all others should be the very last, to complain of a note because it is written "decently," who yourself set the example of neatness and elegance in the note - line, and rank among the very prettiest writers! Indeed this being the case, and perfectly conscious of my inferiority to Mrs. Fiske in regard to this, I am sincere when I avow that I thought the two first - pages of your note were made up of complete irony and am more than half inclined to think so, now. As to what you say of nice paper - mine is nothing extraordinary, - if such paper as I write on was given you, pray tell me, would you make a bon-fire of it, or use it? I shall write to sister Hannah to-day. I will gladly insert that which you directed me to. I hope you will find leisure to answer her letter, soon, as it affords her so much gratification to get intelligence from you. The day before I obtained your letter I heard that "Mr. Wiley was Published to Mrs. Lyman." I was glad of it for Mrs. Lyman has felt like a homeless wanderer over the wastes of earth. Dr. Humphreys remark about it, which you quote sounds just like him! Thank you for the Obituary of Lucretia Parker, (for only as such, did I know her) The style of it is disgusting - but many of the ideas it contains I was glad of. "The fruitful river of the eye" however trite the expression may be, I did not like. Too much was made of some things, and not enough of others. Did you intend to give the Obituary to me? I wish my sisters, and brother Charles to see it & I will copy it if you would like to have me return it. Lucretia passed six months in our family many years ago - during those six months, I was with her almost every moment of the time, by night, & by day, we played in the fields & woods together much of the time, gathering flowers & chasing butterflys - for we did not study but a little, and she appeared enamored of the beauties of the country. I loved to be by her side, she was full of kindness & good-nature, and I then thought the expression of her face very mature & beautiful. There was a great variety in the expression of her countenance. I will remember, when she went away, & I thought I might never see her more, wishing I had her miniature. She was a particular favourite of brother Charles' and she was the dearer to me for that. Indeed, she interested us all. After she left Amherst, I saw her but only once, and that was at New Haven and but for a few moments, but I recollect her with interest, and always shall. You next dwell on the "spreading dissatisfaction in relation to our good minister," & enquire "if I have heard of it?" Yes, I have (bad news ever finds a speedy circulation,) and Mrs Fiske I am sorry for it, more especially on account of Mr. Bent, for he is sensitive, and I dread to have his feelings pained!
I have for months, discerned "the signs of the time" (in relation to ministers). They have been apparent here, & I dare say, many others have seen the tokens of a coming storm. However I hope it may yet "blow over, but a division on the exciting subject of Abolition seems to herald the tempests approach. What a pity it is that people cannot agree to differ! It may be that people are right glad of Abolition because it furnishes they think a sort of an excuse for quarrelling with the minister. When I heard Mr. Bent make the appointment for the Monthly Concert for Sabbath Eve, I trembled for him, & thought you little know of what tinder-like combustibles your Church & Parish are composed, & you are perfectly unconscious that into that heterogeneous mass you are now throwing a coal of fire! -- Abolitionism seems to wane warmer and warmer here. Mr. & Mrs. Boltwood became abolitionists last summer, and it furnished me with much amusement, because for two or three years they had ridiculed brother George & myself for maintaining sentiments & opinions to which they are now converted. It diverts me to see how ardent Fanny is on the subject, when here on Saturday last she told me she "intended to try to make an abolitionist of every person she met." -- So, look-out, for she is full of fiery - zeal! -- Mr. Bushnell of Hartford has recently preached a sermon, on the Sabbath, addressed to Abolitionists, his text was from that passage in relation to Paul's navigating that dangerous place where "two sea's met" he gave them some wholesome advice, told them the means they were using to effect their object would prove altogether ineffectual. Said they had been destitute of judgement in their measures, should in the first-place have chosen a Committee to go in a courteous manner to the Southern Planters to converse with them in regard to Slavery &c. In that way might have effected something. In concluding he said, in speaking of the odium cast upon clergymen because not universally abolitionist "we are called Dumb Dogs - and if we must be Dogs, we had better be dumb, for barking will do no good!" -- This is just like Mr. Bushnell. He is fraught with Indipendence of thought & speech. Your sausages come next! Mother and I admired them. I am usually indifferent to sausages - but yours were so good that I could not but relish them. Mother thought them better seasoned than any she ever ate. In October Mother purchased some, of the Butcher, since Nov. we have not had any in the house, so that they were a vanity. I wrote my sister that Mrs. Fiske sent us bread, "the staff of life, and pies & sausages, the luxuries! - I depended on having attended the funeral of Caroline Nelson, but twas so stormy, tempestuous I mean, that I could not go. What a severe affliction her death must be to all that affectionate family - she was a darling sister & daughter. Mrs. Pres. Day says "that she cannot bear the thought of leaving her children in this world of sin & sorrow, that to have them precede her to another & better, has always seemed pleasant, to her" and she magnifies her sentiments, three children she has been called to part with. The eldest 21 - the youngest 5.
She is a woman of great fortitude - as I think the remark denotes. How do you & your family do? I congratulate you upon the arrival of your Father. How pleasant it must be to you! I do enjoy Mothers society exceedingly - she is bright & cheerful, looks ever on the sunshiny side of human life. But the Winter seems of double length because Mary is away. She wrote me this week, desired her love to Mrs. Fiske. She will not return, I fear 'til April, for Hannah will stop her in Hartford as long as she can. How are your friends the Miss Scofields? - & Miss Vinal - the Misses Vinal? - You ask me "when you shall see me?" Next June in Rose-time I will go out into the garden and select a bunch of the handsomest Roses I can find, and then carry them to you. Mother and I have been the sole occupants of this our dwelling for nearly three weeks. We have enjoyed its perfect quiet. Mr. Boltwood offered us a guard, but Mother & I wouldn't have one, our only, or rather my only fear (for Mama fears nothing) was fire - but that we have been preserved from. Mr. Sharp & Mr. Sprague who each have a room here, are very polite & attentive to us, but we were very willing to have them gone a fortnight. Mr. Sharp is very gentlemanly. Tell Ann that the Pussy she saw here is dead -- she was an affectionate playful creature, & we could not help getting attached to her. Mother said when I left the house of an errand she would go from room to room in quest of me, crying after me, & uneasy 'til I returned. We miss her at every turn about the house. I could not have thought it previously. She was deaf, entirely so, but we pitied her for that reason, her other senses appeared the more exquisite on account of her dearness, for you know
"One failing sense
Still finds another sharpened to attend
Its finest ministries."
She died in a fit, suffered dreadfully, but poor puss will never suffer more, and "she's gone to that land where other cats go" - as the Epitaph on a Kitten hath it - but the pangs, the stiffness & the chill of Icy Death is awful, even in an inferior animal! This thought puts me in mind of what Cousin Fanny Greenough said when she was dying, it was this, "If I live, I will tell you what I suffer." --
I should have sent you the letter from Mrs. Terry before - but Wm. Jacobs did not happen to appear. Do you not admire the grace and beauty of my carrier-pigeon? Mrs Fiske allow me to find one fault with your notes to me, 'tis the only one I can possibly find, viz that you direct them to "Ann Shepard," - now whenever any-body calls me "Ann Shepard" it always sounds to my ear, just as if the person was angry with me, it seems short & crusty - and I cant divest myself of this association. Please direct to Ann E. Shepard - or A.E. Shepard, or E. Shepard - or in short to any body but Ann Shepard. - This aversion of mine to Ann Shepard is as old as I am, nearly. - You will think this ridiculous, - & 'tis so, but "little things are great to little man, " & lesser woman! When you have got to this spot in my prolix reply to your rich note, you will, I know, have the following reflection "How very easy it is for a silly woman to cover a whole sheet of paper, with what if condensed, would be just nothing at all - a great fuss about nothing." I acknowledge your reflection to be wise. One apology however let me make, if I had hoped to see you this month I would not have troubled you thus - but it will not take you as long to read this as it would to hear me say it. You say in your note that you told Mr. Fiske you wished he would preach for us &c. I sincerely wish he would ever preach for us again. Mothers love & mine please accept. Yours affectionately
Ann Elizabeth Shepard.
Thursday. Jan 24. 1839.
You must be rejoiced to learn that Mrs. Hunt is likely to be aided by a brother! I presume you know to what I allude -- It seems like a "god-send" - I have no doubt but it is.
Mrs. Lee has gone to Boston - to pass her vacation. - expecting to enjoy a great-deal. I believe the solution of that puzzle you gave me, came into my head a month ago - but may-be 'twas only a chimera!
'Tis so bitter cold this day that 'tis scarcely possible to believe that our dreary garden can ever again produce a Rose, any more than "Greenlands Icy Mountains"!
[No salutation or inside address]
Willey Washburn brought in your basket, gave it to me, took his seat before the stove, tossed his head back, and threw his limbs about, forcibly reminding me of the indolent attitude of his Father, this lassitude of manner in the parent I always ascribed to disease, and feebleness, to what cause shall I refer it in the Son? -- Does he inherit it think you? Willey saw me commence the perusal of your note, when he cried you, "what queer notes Mrs Fiske does write"! I never read such queer notes in my life"! I was happy to hear from you once more. I admire to read your notes, and Mama loves to hear me read them. We were made sorry when we learnt from you, that you had been so unwell again, we had heard that you were very much better, and that you were taking rides for your health. I trust, to use your own expression, that you "will soon regain the ground you have lost." We were troubled to learn that Helen had been ill. Hope she is better. When I took out the contents of the basket I exclaimed "What a kind lady Mrs. Fiske is! - there is no end to her kindness! I am very much obliged to you. I laughed at your comments on my carrier-pigeon. You are fond of fun. -- The most useful of beings - he cuts wood, brings it in, and does a great many errands for us, he is obliging and good-natured and we have cause to speak well of him, but what an object he is to look at!!
I sincerely wish we had a Raphael or a Titian to take a full length portrait of him, and thus present him in all his length and awkwardness in bold-relief on the canvass! Some time since I was [paper missing] with an "affected" young lady of our village when she spoke of "the university of Amherst" just as we should of "the university of Boston" - it made my mind feel sick -- now I think Wm. Jacobs is surely one of "the aristocracy of Amherst" for he is one of "Natures Noblemen" -- and I dont know but that he may with propriety be called one of the seven wonders of our world! --If there is a Museum here, his portrait or statute should certainly grace it, for he is one of the greatest (if not the greatest curiosity) curiosities we can proclaim. He bears a striking likeness to a picture that I once saw of "a Gastromener" who was represented as standing front of a table loaded with delicacies & luxuries, and starting back from it, with an expression of sickening daintiness.
The reason you assign for my aversion to Ann Shepard is a most natural one, but I must say that in regard to myself, I do not recollect the occurrence of facts similar to those which you state, but because I do not remember them, that is no proof that they did not transpire. If there were not such facts in my childish history, it was not because I was such a good girl that they would not take place. I well remember that when Father gave me a command, I instantly obeyed for I dared not do otherwise - even although I was the youngest, "the baby" & of course obtained great favour in his eyes. Mother was always lenient - if it had not been for Fathers commanding influence, I dont know what would have become of his high-spirited children - in this wildness, they might have "set heaven & earth a little on fire." - as did Phaeton, you know. Pardon this egotistical epistle. The fear of offending me which you mention, is quite needless, when I get angry with you, it must be in consequence of something far more terrible than the cause you speak of. You enquire if I ever [paper missing] any stewed prunes?" Yes, I have - but never any preserved ones as are yours. Those you sent me were delicious Mother admired them. Your cakes were very nice. When I ate of them they made me think of sister Mary, as well as of yourself, because she frequently makes that kind of cake when at home. I have not made any since she went away. Mother sends her love to you all. How is Miss Ann S. in these days? increasing in health & loveliness I imagine. I have copied the story about the kittens & cat & viper by Cowpen, & send it to you to read to Ann. Tis pretty, I think very simple, but if I may be allowed to criticise the poetry of the celebrated Cowpen, I will say, two or three of the lines are prosaich in the extreme! Very likely, you already possess it. If so you can burn up my copy of it. Mother has made a cranberry tart for you, she asked you to please accept it. She hopes you will find it good, & relish it. I am writing this with a dreadful pen, as you must have perceived - there is nothing like a hair-stroke about it, & my pen-knife has gone to be sharpened. -- I fear you felt obliged to send back that letter of Cousin Hannah's' immediately. I hope you did not. You need never feel hurried about any such thing, in regard to me.
Mother has suffered much from the Rheumatism for the last few days - the immediate cause no doubt was the severity of the weather. Oh! how bitter cold it was during the early-part of last week! --It seemed as if we must either burn up, or freeze up! -- and yet we have every comfort too. Please accept from me some preserved peach - a jar of it was presented me by Mr. Sharp's sister of Dorchester. if your cough troubles you, you may find it soothing to your lungs. You speak of my "showing my face below the hill." Mrs. Washburn calls Mother and I "two teachers" as appropriate names as she, or any body can give us perhaps, & yet I tell Mother that I think we feel neighbourly, although we dont act so - but if we do not act neighbourly, there is no proof that we are so - and the neighbours have no reason to believe we feel so, unless we order our conduct otherwise. Please tell me if you know who wrote that notice of "Mr Hunts Memoir & sermons" in the Boston Recorder so commendatory of the little volume! - I hope it may promote the sale of the work. How strange & almost ridiculous it seems that Mrs. Hunt & her brother cannot frequently interchange thought & intelligence even although he is at New Orleans! When brother C. was at New Orleans a few Winters ago, there was no difficulty in reference to any thing of the kind. Mrs. Hunts friends ought to hire a post-carrier to go to her distant brother, me thinks. But if I knew more about the affair, perhaps I should be ashamed of these remarks! -- When you weary of my prolix strain set fire to my note. How delightful it is this morning - I hope the birds sing.
Ann Elizabeth Shepard.
Tuesday, Feb 12. 1839.
Addressed: Mrs. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst
[Tuesday] Hatfield Feb. 12th 1839
My Dear Mrs. Fiske
Prof. Tyler offers to take a note for me to Amherst if I will have it ready shortly and although I have not a moment to spare I cannot deny myself the privilege of scribbling you a few lines notwithstanding I have received no reply to my last note. I begin to despair of ever seeing you and if our acquaintance is continued it must be by means of the pen. I am about to be as much confined again as ever, as you have probably heard. Sister Abby will leave us for a new home I suppose in about a fortnight. She had a severe struggle in coming to the decision to marry again but I have no doubt it will be far better for her. For Mr. Ward we have ever had the highest respect, his former wife was an intimate friend of ours and to her he was an excellent husband.
The thought of being left alone again is not very pleasant I can assure you. I have been expecting a letter of sympathy from you for some time. Messages of consolation I am constantly receiving and from brother Woodruff I received the other day a letter of congratulation on account as he said of my "brightening prospects." He said if another clever fellow wished to get into the brotherhood he must come in the right way. (You perhaps do not know that my sister Fanny too is about to be married). Now all this would have a tendency to cheer one who was not already sunk in despondency. I can appreciate the kind feelings which dictate these words of comfort - if I cannot apply them to my self. Now and then a damper is thrown upon my hopes one of which I was about to mention but the note is called for, so in haste "good by"
Write speedily to your friend
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Postmarked: Boston, Ms. FEB 26
Monday Feb 25th 1839.
That package has caused me as well as yourself, much anxiety, besides the curiosity, I had to know what it contained. I did not get it till Saturday night last. I concluded it was lost, I sent to Mr Raymond's so many times, that he was really quite cross about it. I did not mean to send again, but Miss A Scholfield was kind enough to call, and tell us she had heard from you, and give me some encouragement, about that long looked for package. I think Mr Dickinson must have forgotten it. The letter came in season, and I have sent to Mr R's every day since, beside a number of times, Uncle Vinal has called. Do you wonder they were rather cross? I am extremely obliged to you for those fiery red mittens, I am really glad of something to attract attention, these will be just the thing, "red and yallar, are said to very attractive to some persons" I am almost sure I should have been more successful if I could have had my red mittens, when I called on Mr K. I called on Mrs Bancroft to leave the bundle, I sent you, was shown into the parlor, and who should be there, but that little bashful student, he looked frightened to death. After going through that horrible process of self introduction, (for I had it all to do) I made some inquiries about you, and some other good folks in Amherst. By this time Mrs B. appeared this relived us from all further embarrassment. She is a very pretty woman, I really wish I had some excuse to call and see her again. Mr B. was at home he is as stiff as a stick of wood, I cannot say I was pleased, with your Mr Bancroft - You talked so much about, he is too ministerial. Cousin Mary Bowker spent the day with us last week, I do not see as she is altered at all, she looks well, and seems in good spirits, she is busy as a bee making her house keeping articles. Martha seems to enjoy her visit. I am afraid Cousin M. will have to suffer a great deal better before she get better. I do not see as she gains any, her back is very painful, it hurts her to move herself in any way, she reads a great deal, sews but little. I do not think she is able to wite you a letter, though I heard her say, she should try and wite very soon. They have been without help nearly a fortnight, their Lady took a miff at some trifling affair, and walked off without any ceremony, Aunt Vinal had one of her nervous turns, Martha and Uncle Vinal had to do the cooking. Mary did the chamber-work and took care of Aunt Vinal. They have taken another Irish girl, Aunt had said that she never would have another, but I guess she finds it is better to have Irish, than none. I think so. We keep our Irish Betsey yet, she does pretty well. I expect every day when her Jonathan will call for her, and they I shall have to fly round, among the pots and kettles, for Mother says she has had a good resting spell, and means to try and do without this summer, but as soon as I find she is in earnest, I shall walk off with my Jonathan. Eliza Ann has another Son, 5 weeks old, he is not as pretty as little Albert, his complexion is very dark, has large features, but he is so good natured that we forget all about his looks. It is very fortunate for E. she has so good baby, she does not get along well, is very low spirited, and weak. I guess she will not have another baby in a year. Cousin Harriet is with her yet, she makes herself very useful. Albert is very fond of her, and will not be so contented with any one else. Uncle Nutting is now visiting us, he has brought interesting news from W. there is a great revival there, nearly a hundred it is thought have experienced religion, he and his wife are among the hopeful. Mr. and Mrs May, and Mr May, the (Bachelor, he thinks will be a Methodist,) the revival commenced among the Methodists. I hope it will not prove to be excitement, if they live as every Christian ought to, it will be a great recemmendation to the place. Cousin Jane is at Gideon's they talk some of going to W. this spring and she is at work for her board. she is sick now with the rheumatism. Cousin Charles's and Nathaniel's families fare well. Father's health is tolerable good, he is in a worry, about Aunt Beck now, he is afraid she will have to go to the Alms House, let her go if her Husband cannot keep her out, he has just paid her rent for her. I wish she was back in Pittsfield, or somewhere else where should could not come to him with her complaints. I guess it will frighten you a little to read this letter. It is a dark stormy day, and I have written it in less than a half an hour, I did not get your letter til near 3 to day, I hope you will not have hysterick fits before you receive this, I should have written to you to day. If I had not received your letter, but should have taken more time for than I have now done. I should have written before, if the mittens had not been so long on the way. I am sorry your Papa is unwell, does he have the blues any more?
Is Mr. Stearns with you? Mr G Stearns is teaching school near Albert's. Harriet and I talk of calling on him. You will want a Dictionary handy when you read this scribble. My eyes have been better till last week. I made a black dress, and they feel very sore to day. I do not drive at seeing as I used to. I begin to think lazy folks, prosper just as well in the end, as the terrible drivers. It is now so dark I cannot see without a lamp, and I must bid you god bye. It rains so hard, I am afraid my letter will not get put into the office to night. I shall not be to blame for that. A bushel of Love for you all. Wite a good long letter soon. Yours truly,
Addressed: Mrs. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst
Hatfield Wed. 27th Feb. 1839.
My Dear Mrs. Fiske
Now is the time for you to come with your rope, for though I am above ground yet, I am expecting every moment to be so deep in the dungeon as Jeremiah. The great day is over and our friends have all gone. Our number is now reduced to three. Can we be otherwise than lovely think you? To amuse myself I have been writing a long letter to George and not being satisfied with that I am going to amuse myself still further in scribbling a few lines to you. How rapidly have the last few weeks flown! The whole seems like a dream. I cannot realize that Sister Abby has indeed left us for another home. The marriage ceremony took place at half past seven Monday evening. It was the most sober wedding I ever attended. Still it was not sad. The parties concerned manifested a chastened cheerfulness. True there was an occasional tear visible as the tender recollections of past scenes were so vividly brought to mind. They seemed to feel as they could not have done before this their fondest hopes might soon be cut off. They have each loved ardently once. Some would say they could never again love to the same degree. I am not prepared to say thus - I think so. Mr. Ward appeared just as we could wish and we all felt satisfied in committing our sister into his hands. Mr. Nelson of Leicester married them. He was a friend of both parties. Brother Lyman was also here. He left yesterday morning. When I send this note I shall send you a piece of the cake.
Abby gave me in charge a message for you when I went to Amherst last which I forgot to mention and now I will say that she had just had her black bonnet refitted making quite a pretty one. She wished me to enquire of you whether Mrs. Hunt is well supplied and if not - whether it would be proper to send it to her. Speak exactly as you think about it. She has not worn it more than a dozen times. If you think it best I will send it over to your charge the first opportunity. If not say so freely.
I wish Amherst - and Hatfield - were on the same side of the river. I think I should call on you more than once in a year and should hope to see you here now and them.
Do you know that Hatfield people have given a unanimous call to Mr. Taylor to become their minister? I cannot tell you who he is but your Tutors all know him and all say he is a great scholar. I think he will make a good minister and hope he will come, which is not the same as saying that he is a man exactly after my fancy. They offer eight hundred dollars. Mary things he is next to the best and all think he is good enough for us. Love to Mr Fiske and the children and believe me
Your aff. friend
If I can get the bearer of this to wait for an answer I shall do so that I may know whether to send you the bonnet. I suppose some one is expected over on saturday to preach, either Mr Spofford or Mr Tyler (I hope the latter). Remember me in my solitude and contrtibute a little with your pen to cheer me.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Care of Professor Fiske
Return address: Hadley, Mass, Feb 20
[February 20, 1839] Hadley Wed morn
My Dear Mrs Fisk
Your letter has just been received, and I hasten to reply so that you may have it by to days mail. In reply to the great and important subject of butter, I think I may accommodate you with 15 or 20 lbs. when ever you may please to send.
I was very sorry to hear that you had been sick again and hope now that you are quite well again would it not be improving to your health to ride to Hadley some of these pleasant days? I wish you would try it, bundle up in cloaks ec. so that you will not take cold and I will engage to make you comfortable while here, come and make a long visit We are expecting Mr and Mrs. Sabin every day. I hope you may see them.
You inquire for Doct Brown. Father was there yesterday he thought he had failed very much in the last two weeks, he suffers more from weakness than pain the council of physicians did not ascertain that his lungs were affected but thought him in to be in a critical situation. the girls are comfortable Sarah does not go out and has not since Mrs B - death. It is the opinion of most that Dr Brown never will be any better and I believe that is his opinion at times.
Dorothy sends much love to you and says I must tell you that she should have made you twice glad this winter if we had had sleighing: fortunate for you I think if we do not have snow. give my love to the children I want to see them very much. dont forget to come and make us a lond visit.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske.
My dear Mrs. Fiske.
Many thanks I would give you for the very beautiful Buns which you were so kind as to send me a week ago. Mother says that "we must learn of Mrs. Fiske how to make Buns" Please to accept of a goblet of Peach-preerve for your sick husband.
Farewell. Affectionately yours.
Monday. April 1, 1839.
Addressed: Mrs. Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
Return Address: East Machias, June 19
[Wednesday] East Machias, June 19, 1839.
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I have been thinking for a long time that I would write to you, & I believe have sent intimations to you of my intention to do so, but for various reasons have delayed until now, when I have come to the conclusion that if I do not write speedily, you will either forget, there is such a being as I way down here in the East, or give me over as a monster of ingratitude; for surely, I should prove myself destitute of some of the common feelings of humanity, if I should, in any way show, that I am unmindful of the proofs of friendship I received from you while your neighbor. Nor am I wholly disinterested in writing now, for I am not thinking solely or chiefly, of the pleasure a letter from me will give you, but have begun already to anticipate an answer, & think of what I shall enjoy in reading a communication from you . -- I know your character as a correspondent too well to believe you will let me wait long without this gratification.
I trust you have not interpreted my silence thus far in a way which I would not like, that is, by supposing that it is because I am dissatisfied with my condition, that I do not report myself. You will recollect that we had some conversation on this subject, & then I could not express myself with certainty with regard to the change I was about to experience in my situation; but now that I have passed the ordeal which was to decide my destiny for life, & have had seven weeks' experience in the matrimonial state, I think I am qualified to express an opinion with a good degree of confidence. I do not know how I can give you a better idea of my feelings towards a married life, than by telling you that I have been as happy since I entered upon it, as I would ever hope to be in this world, & have never for a moment regretted the change in my situation.
Our folks have probably informed you that I had a pleasant journey to this place. I enjoyed it all very much notwithstanding that the last day I rode from 7 o"clock one morning until 2 the next, and that also in a wagon without a springs & over corduroy bridges, & roads which, the frost on taking its departure in the Spring, left in no very desirable state. My health was much invigorated by it, & has continued very good since.
I was disappointed at not seeing your father in B. My time was so much occupied that I could not go where he boarded, nor to see your cousin Mary. I went over to Charleston & called on your cousin Martha, & was very happy to see her & your aunt Vinal.
East Machias looked rather strange to me when I first came here, but it now seems natural, tho' not as it used to, when my parents were here. I have enjoyed very much in meeting old friends, & visiting places consecrated by many tender recollections. I miss my cousin Amy very much. Her mother exhibits a great deal of fortitude in sustaining her loss, exhibiting in her unrepining cheerfulness the deportment of a christian, tho' she does not acknowledge herself to be such. Her father is very disconsolable.
Nature wears a different aspect here from what she does in Amherst. To give you an idea of what a difference there is in the progress of vegetation I will inform you that apple trees (& there are but few of them) are now in blossom, & the poor things look as tho' they were in constant fear of being nipped off by the frost. Other trees have just assumed their summer dress. There have been but very few days since I came here when it has been warm enough to sit without a fire.
My husband's eyes have improved very much this Term. I assist him in the academy one half of the day (the forenoon) & like much to be thus employed a part of the time. We are pleasantly situated, boarding at his father's, & in our present, unsettled state, I much prefer it to house-keeping.
And now my dear Mrs. F. I want to enquire something about yourself. How is your health & that of your husband? Please write particularly about it. Whom have you to supply my place in making your neighborly visits? I look back with much pleasure upon my intercourse with you, & feel under great obligations for your kindness to me as a neighbor & friend. I experienced much pleasure in receiving the articles you sent me just before I left home, & as I have not had an opportunity before, thank you for them now. You could not have taken a more effectual way to remind me of yourself, as I keep them about me, & by using them are continuously reminded, of the giver.
I suppose you see our folks at home some times, & I wish you would tell me how they seem to bear their deprivations. I have thought very much of them, & would give much to see them. Eliza writes in good spirits. Is she neighborly now that I have come away?
Please inform me how Sarah Brown is now, & of what you know of the situation of the rest of the family. I feel interested for them, although but slightly acquainted. Have you heard from Mrs. Hunt since she left A.? My love to Lucy Humphrey.
My residence in Amherst was very pleasant, & I feel a deep interest in my friends there. Remember me affectionately to your neighbors Mrs. H. & Mrs. Snell -- The neighbors were all kind, & I feel happy in knowing that my parents & sister are among such.
Please remember me to your good husband, & give my love to Helen & "Little Anna." I should be very happy to receive a letter from you soon, & hear of your welfare.
Your sincere friend,
Cambridge Port. Jan. 27th. 1840.
Dear Cousin Deborah,
I did not think when I left your pleasant home that so long a time would elapse before I should write to you, to give you at least, some account of the remainder of our journey, & our safe return to our dear children & our fireside, after being separated from them nearly seven weeks; but so it is. I have found so many things to do, that with sewing, knitting & the care of my children, there has not been much leisure for me even to write to a dear friend. You are so accustomed to writing letters to your friends that I suppose you would write a dozen while I was thinking of one, for it is a task for me to think of it, though I am always repayed tenfold for my exertion, in the pleasure of receiving an answer, but my children must all be in bed, no work around that I am haste to finish, but I must feel quite at ease for the time & then I can make out to scribble a little once in a while to my best absent friends, and this I know you will conclude will be but seldom & it is. I suppose you have heard before this that our friends in Worcester were from home, when we stopped there, & we were accommodated very finely at the "American House," though I was disappointed in not visiting the Hospital, as I had long felt a great desire so to do, but we arrived at home, "sweet home," one day sooner and found all waiting & longing to see us. The children are both well, though they had been sick during our absence, our little boy knew us in a moment and seemed perfectly delighted to see George Henry, he kissed him a dozen times & seated himself on the floor to take "bubby in his lappy" there were so many things to tell and to show, that for a little time we were almost crazed. I felt that we had great cause for gratitude to God that we were so prospered in our journey, that no accident happened on the way, that we were all preserved in health & permitted again to meet together after so long an absence. How many worries we are daily & hourly receiving, and yet how little we think of them, how astonishing is the forbearance & long suffering of God with such sinful erring creatures. I thought a great deal of you after we returned, and when I heard that Helen was sick, I was almost sure that the next news would be that you were shut up for the Winter, but I have felt very happy to hear that you were so well & would go about & take comfort with your friends. I suppose you are almost a wonder to yourself that you are able to do it at this season of the year. I was much pleased to receive a little visit from your good husband & should have been very happy to have had him tarried longer with us if he could have found it convenient & pleasant for himself, but as he has found the way, I hope he will come again & stop longer, it will answer for a half-way-house between Weston and Boston. I suppose he told you that Mr. Miller was preaching among us, and the subject of his lectures, he continued with us until Sabbath evening, and the interest and Attention appeared to increase with the time, the last one, the house was crowded and all were perfectly silent and attentive no disturbance was made by boys or men. Whether there are many that believe with him that the end of all things will be in 1843, I cannot say, a few I know do, but the effect now is thought to have been good; it has set many to thinking on the subject of Religion, who before were indifferent, and many to reading their bibles who before neglected them. It is thought by the Pastor & many others that a good state of feeling has been created both in the church & congregation & that God is at work among us, we hope this is the case, and that many, very many may be truly converted to the truth. One thing is very certain, we must all die & whether sooner or later it makes but little difference to us, if we are only prepared that is of the greatest importance, but that day we are apt to put afar off. Our Pastor says he thinks it has led many to think more of the realities of another world, to bring it nearer to our minds, and led them to think that great day was near at hand, which they have always imagined was very far distant, & they have felt more the importance of making preparation for it. We trust it is the prayer of all who love the cause, that a Divine Blessing may attend the lectures & that many may be convinced of their sins & believe to the saving of their souls. We have the last week had a very distressing case of the small pox quite near to us. One of our neighbours lost their only child a beautiful healthy boy of eight months, the first sickness it had had since its birth, its mother was a zealous Grahamite, and was advised by Mrs Gove, the female lecturer, not to have it vaccinated, as she said, children brought up wholly on vegetable diet would not be likely to take the disease, what an absurdity! Mrs. Glover, for that was his name, seemed to think that his manner of living & the free use of cold water would keep off almost any sickness, & I had almost said death itself, indeed, I have often said that I wondered if she was had a thought that her child would die, she did not talk as if she did. She was very averse to giving it any medicine, poison, you know, and if it had not been for the Nurse I do not think she would given it any thing but cold water, during its sickness. They feel its loss very much and I hope for the future she will not depend so much on outward means, but remember that we are all mortal. The husband does not think just as she does on every point & he reflects very much that it was not done. He kept an upholstery in B. and furnished the bedding for the "Small Pox Hospital", & had the Varioloid himself a month since, this the Dr. proscribed it then the Scarlet Fever. I asked Mrs G. if she was not afraid the babe would have it "Oh, no, said she I guess I shall wash it all of with cold water," but poor woman, I guess she found it was not so easy washing off that dreadful disease. I think it is just as much our duty to have our children vaccinated as it is to give them food, and I would not neglect it for all the Mrs Gove's, & the cold water in the universe. They are both The parents we have reason to believe true Christians & I trust the affliction will not be lost upon them. I want to see you & the children very much. I only wish you lived within calling distance that I could run in now & then and have a good chat with you that is so much better than all the letters in the world. I shall depend upon my visit from you in the Spring if we both live. I have sent a book for Helen & one for Sarah, you can give them as you please, and if H. has one like them or would rather have any other, I can exchange them any time when you will send them down, the two little ones are for Miss Ann, one she may call my present & accept the other from Cousin Ann Eliza. I hope they will like them all. I do not know as you will be able to puzzle all this [ ] out, had I time I would copy it, but I shall send it with all its imperfection, trusting to your charity & good nature to excuse all the errors in spelling, composition, punctuation, &c &c. Albert is in the parlour, playing on the piano, & I am visiting in my chamber over the back parlour, where I have kept myself this winter as I find it more convenient with the children, they are all now sound asleep around me, & am at present very well, though they have all been sick through the winter. I expect to send this by your father, so I suppose I need not be particular if I do fill rather more than three pages, the postage will be the same. It may be rather old before you get it, but he has been going next week for so long, I was afraid if I did not write soon he would slip off before I know it & I should lose my chance again. I shall be looking soon for a long letter from you & hope I shall hear that you all continue in health for that is the greatest blessing we can enjoy.
I want to know how you all get along this cold weather, & if there is any good news in your pleasant town. I suppose you have plenty of sleigh rides now. I had a pleasant little one after Albert came home to night just before tea, we have now the best sleighing now we have had this winter so far, & I suppose it will be improved. It is a good thing to have a good husband, is it not? You know it by experience, as well as myself. I only wish I was a better wife & mother. My paper warns me that I must draw my scribble to a close which I will do by begging you to accept our kind regards for your husband, Mrs Smith & the children, & accept a large share for yourself,
from Your affectionate cousin
Eliza Ann Vinal.
P.S. I must not forget to tell you that Gideon's wife & Mary are very much interested in Mr Miller, they have been to hear him often, & I hope it may do them good. Mother V. does not like him at all. Dr. Sharp does not approve of him, & that you know is enough.
Addressed: Mr. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
[Friday] Boston, Jan ry 31st. 1840.
I have just heard that your Father will start for Amherst to-morrow, and I am going to write a few lines, just to tell you, that I have not quite forgotten your name, or place of residence. I guess you are losing your capacity for letter-writing, or perhaps you grow more ceremonious, as you grow old, but any rate, if I am not very much mistaken, you have never answered the long letter, I wrote you just before Eliza Ann visited Amherst. But I do not want you to think this is the reason, why I have not written. I only want to remind you of your debts. I have been expecting, your Father would go every day for 5 or 6 weeks, and meant to have written you, a long letter by him, but as we are expecting to take a sleigh ride, this afternoon, I shall have to be as quick as possible, I have no news to write you, we are all well. I saw Cousin M. about a fortnight since, she was more unwell, I think, then I have ever seen her, she has lost flesh, and is in pain so much of the time, she hardly looks able to sit up. Do write to her, often, and cheer her up, all you can, she is very low-spirited at times. I do not think she will ever be any better. Cousin Jane has been staying with us a few weeks. She has gone to board with Mrs. Tiler this winter, I do hope she will be pleasantly situated, the poor child seems to have no resting-place, Abby, and Harriet, are so against her, she does not dare to go the house, to see her brothers or the children. She has been boarding, with a family in South Russell St., where she liked very much, and would have staid all winter. but they had the Small Pox and she was obliged to leave. People in the City, are very much excited on account of the Small Pox, it is all over the City, and there is a few cases out of town. I think if people would be more careful, it would soon stop, but they go round, thinking the air is good for them, and give it to others in their clothes, there is a number of cases, in our neighbourhood. We have all be re-vaccinated, so lately, I do not think we shall be liable to take it. Some think the physicians would like to spread it, but I try to have a better opinion of them. Eliza Ann, seems to think she should like to have it, if it would affect her as it did before, she has exposed herself to it purposely. The little nieces, and nephews, came so fast, I think it is high time, to try to get rid of them, in some way, if we do not have two this time, it will be a bouncing big one. If you write her, do not mention it in your letter, the poor woman feels provoked enough, she does not want to think of May. I suppose you have had some fine sleigh rides. I have not had one, I am thinking, I shall have a grand one to day. I shall not seal my letter, but if I have time, I shall fill it up, and write a few lines to Helen, if I do not tell her I have not forgotten her letter, and she must take the will for the deed, perhaps your Papa may not go so soon. You have had a number of deaths in Amherst lately. are the sick folks getting better? Write me a good long letter and tell me all the news. Remember me to Mrs Smith, or perhaps she may be a Mrs. P... before this time, I have heard all the news. I am glad you are so well, this winter, do try and keep so, till you have made us Boston folks, a good long visit.
Your aff. Cousin
My Dear Helen,
I hope you do not think because you are a little girl, Cousin Mary, thinks it is no matter whether she answers your letter or not. I was very much pleased with your letter, and wish you would write me another, sometime, when Mother is willing. I suppose you have fine times sliding, this cold weather. Where do you go to school? Does Ann go with you? I wish you, and Ann, a Happy New Year. I have not forgotten the fine times, we used to have jumping, and hopping out in the new building. I do not believe you have had any such noisy company since. Deborah, and Charles have sent a [ ] your grandfather, with some good things, for you, & Ann. You must give it to Mother, and when she thinks proper she will give them to you. We have been to take a sleigh ride, this afternoon but it was so cold, he crept under the seat, and covered himself up with the buffalo he would not say he was cold, he was so afraid his Papa would go home. We rode about 8 miles before we came home.
It is now almost 9 o'clock, and I must seal up my letter, ready for grand-papa, he will want to pack his trunk in the morning. Kiss Sister Ann, for me, and tell her one of these days, when I come to Amherst, I expect she will have a great deal to tell me, which she has learned, since I saw her.
From your Cousin,
Mary S. Vinal.
Addressed: Mr. D.W. V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. N.W. Fiske
Return address: Weston, Ms Feb 14th
[Note on the outside envelope portion of letter, in Deborah's handwriting: As God has seen fit, for some unknown, but wise and benevolent pur-purpose to make the Tomb a place of such affecting interest to you allow me to present send to you a wealth to make the make it seem a desirable resting place diss diminish the gloom with which we are ever apt to associate the resting place of the departed. --]
[Wednesday] Weston Feb. 12 1840.
I returned from Charlestown last Friday; have been trying every day since, to find time to write you, but this is the first leisure I have had. You can imagine how much one finds to do, after having been absent two or three weeks. I had a very pleasant visit, spent a week at Woburn, Mrs Bennetts health is pretty good for her, it is astonishing how much she accomplishes with her feeble health. The Woburn ladies have just been fitting out Mr. Thomson for his mission, something handsome was given and made into clothing for him, the father of Mrs. Thomson is wealthy, he did every thing for his daughter, very cheerfully, which would be done for her comfort; I think it is remarkable, as he is not interested in religion, and she an only daughter. Mrs. Avery the mother came down to see her daughter sail, called at Mr. Bennetts, appeared to be a very interesting woman, she said it was some time before they were reconciled to giving up their daughter, but still would not withhold her. Mr. Trayman the celebrated Amherst student who eloped with a black lady was hurrying about there, I should think not a very acceptable visitor, has got a wife somewhere, talks about going to Africa, says his wife has got four hundred dollars, think they can go without being connected with the missionary society, that he can maintain himself by his ingenuity; he is a blazing perfectionist some think. he must enjoy a great deal of religion, he is so near perfection, perhaps others would, if they did not know anything about him.
I had a pleasant visit at Charlestown, spent the day with Martha Vinal, went the second time to spend the day, but our folks came for me, Martha seems pretty well thinks she is much better than she has been. Mr. Vinal has a very pretty and convenient home, they all seem quite pleased with it. I was very glad to hear that your husband got home alive, the cold was so very severe, I was afraid he would freeze his fingers and toes if he rode till night. Dr. Fay's society have given a Mr. Buddington an invitation, to settle among them, he seemed to be an interesting preacher, although he did not meet my expectations, from what I had heard of him; he is quite young. Alonzo has just received a letter from Aunt Sarah, she is still in Ahbramhsom, visiting in different places, expects her visits will last till March, then she expects to begin to housekeep; I had a letter from her a few weeks since, she spoke of having had a good many articles of furniture given her, I am glad of it.
With regard to your enquiries about my being married I cannot give you much information, I will say to you the same which I did the last time I saw you; when I know myself you will be one of the first who will be made acquainted with it. Mr. L. visited us in December, old subjects were bought up, and again referred to my father; his heart is evidently set against my being situated any differently from what I am now, says there is no need of my being married because I can always have a home here, and if I outlive him, and Sewall pulls the old house down and builds a new one I can have a home in the new one.
I am amused to hear him reason about it, but we cannot expect a man of eighty to be as reasonable as one of forty or fivety, had I wished to have gone twenty years ago, perhaps I might have got away more easily. I cannot think of doing any thing against the wishes of an aged parent, although, perhaps he would be as well taken care of by any one else, as by me, yet the idea that he might not be happy throws a dark cloud over every bright spot; and as I think now, a connexion will not take place unless it is brought about in some way which will let me remain with him. You know how much we are mixed up now, the idea of being more so is not pleasant, and I sometimes wish the case had not come up again. Mary is at Cambridge spending a week, we are all well, father about as usual, Mrs Fiske spinning stocking yarn, Sewall gone to Boston with wood, Alonzo chopping wood, all the rest gone to school. Your aff. sister. M Fiske
Are you expecting to lose Mrs Smith, and how soon will she go if she goes Your father must have had a very cold ride to Amherst I know the day he started
A bunch of keys were picked up in the yard after he left here, did he lose them? I mean your husband.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. Fiske.
Return address: Weston Ms July 13th
[Thursday] Weston July 9 1840.
My dear Sister,
I am beginning to think I shall not hear from you until I let you hear from us, and will set about writing forthwith, and give you a detail of matters and things at home. I will begin with telling you that we are all well, father is as well as when you was here, works most of the day.
Our men are beginning to hay but the weather will not allow them to drive or much. Mrs Fiske has gone to Billerica after cousin Betsey she has been visiting cousins about three weeks, Mary and Martha have gone to visit Mrs Williams this afternoon, and I am left pretty much alone. We were left alone in the neighborhood on saturday, every man and almost every boy went to Concord, a great many went by here, the carriages from Waltham, Waterton, &c, went together, they must have reached at least half a mile. The 4 of July seems to have been celebrated in this way in various parts of the state. I saw in the morning Post a notice of the Barre celebration, the writer did not thank the Amherst boys for coming and singing as they come "I will never be a locofoco again" I think from his manner of writing he would have liked the parody much better had it been I will never be a whiggy again.
I do not recollect ever seeing so much political excitement, so much "running too and fro" will be another convincing proof to Mr Miller that the last days are at hand.
How do you get along without Mrs Smith? and how does she get along with her new husband, and baby? I suppose the novelty of being married is over by this time and she is beginning to realize sober facts, which probably will be, that she has got him and his child to take care of. How are Helens teeth? are they improving? Shall we see her with her father in the next vacation.
Martha has got home from her school, she did not keep the term out, but I believe she got along in the school the latter part of the time than she did the first, she was not well for a week before she came home but I think it was half homesick, for she is quite well now; she has got a good deal to learn as it respects her knowledge of human nature, she will not find father and mother in every house, by what we can learn, more things went awry with her out of school than in. She will have plenty of time to prepare for Mount Holyoke.
Berries are going to be very plenty on the burnt ground this summer. I wish Sarah could come and pick some for your puddings and pies.
Weston people are going to build Mr. Field a new meeting house, they are about pulling down the old one, and will meet in the hall through the summer. Lincoln people are trying hard to get one, but I do not know as they will succeed, many seem to be getting dissatisfied with Mr. Newhall, and say they will not give anything for one, while he stays, but is as good, and as great a man as Lincoln can expect, and I fear if we are not content with him the society will be so broken up, that we shall not have any. I think there is more fault found with her than with him, and perhaps not altogether without a reason. She is so bound up in her babies that she cannot think or attend to much else. I like to see mothers love their children, but one does not like to always hear baby talk, about little sonny or little daughter. Big folks are babies enough to like some attention, or make a fuss if they do not have it.
Friday morning. Mrs. Fiske and Cousin B. returned last night, Billerica cousins are all well, Sarah is at home and does not think of returning, at the present, as her health is not quite good enough to teach. Mrs Hill has been at Cousin Sewall's, since Betsey has been there, taking miniatures, has taken Sewall's, his wife, and Aunt Stearns. Aunt wanted hers to look as she looked ten years ago, did not wish to see the cheeks sunk in, and have an old look. If the faces do not look amy more natural than the one we have of Aunt Stearnes of New Ipswich, I should not value them much. We have not heard from N. Ipswich lately, you probably heard, by the way of Josiah and George oftener than we do. We have not seen Martha Vinal yet, Martha thinks of going to the Fort to spend a week, if she does, she will go to Charlestown, have not heard from Mrs Warner for sometime when we heard last, she was about the same, as she had been. Aunt Warner has gone to Woburn, Aunt Sally has come to Weston, but I have not found time to call on her yet. Mrs Fiske, Cousin B. and all send love to all the family.
You may possibly look forwar see Sewall and his wife when Martha goes to Mount Holyoke, but it is a good while to look forward, cannot make much calculation as to what may take place. Give my love to your Husband and the children, your aff. sister M Fiske.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske. Amherst, Mass. To the Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske. Postmarked: Boston, Mas OCT 16
[handwritten note: answered]
[Friday] Boston Oct 16th 1840.
I guess you have made up your mind by this time, that Boston folks, do not care whether you have good, or bad potatoes, this winter, if you waited for your Father to write to you, I rather think you would not get any at all. I shall excuse myself for my neglect the best way I can, and he must make his own, if he has any. I sent him that letter as soon as I received it expecting he would write you immediately, or send you a paper, but he is such in a drive about that house, he forgits every thing else. I saw him last evening he said he wished I would write, and tell you he was considerably better of his complaint, and that the man who has such nice potatoes to sell, lives in Chesterfield, his name is Lyman Yates. You wanted to know what I was about, now, I am full of business as usual, I have been doing house-work for about two months, and I am pretty well tired out. Our girl went away to get married, and Mother took it into her head, to try, and see how smart she could be, and I of course must follow on, but I have stopped now, and made a resolution, that I will not drive on, at such a rate, what is the use of it? Will you answer the question? I went a girl hunting all one day, at last I found an Irish girl, that I rather guess is a mate for yours, she is queer, ignorant, cross and dirty, but I live in hopes we shall make a good girl of her yet. Now I have done with the kitchen work, I have gone up stairs, and seated myself, right in the midst of quited petticoats, drawers &c. and working away as fast I can, wishing all the time, I was some where else, where we did not so many winter garments.
I should like to know, why you have not written me all this long summer, you promised to write, and tell me all about that famous wedding. I suppose you would not have written now, if it had not been for hour nice potatoes. If I had not heard from you by way of Mrs Vinal, I should have thought you was sick. I have felt almost provoked enough to give you a trimming, you know, I am pretty good at scolding, but I think upon the whole it is as well to be independent about such things, and say you do not care any thing about it. I have nothing new to write you this time. I suppose have have heard of Uncle Beck's death. Your Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are all well excepting Charles, he has a bad cough I suppose it is what is called a Bum Cough, I think [paper missing] not leave off drinking we shall follow him next. [paper missing] obliged to work evenings lately, and my eyes [paper missing] sore towards night. I expect I shall be a [paper missing] creature yet, but then I shall have one consolation,
folks will not expect much of me. You must remember me to the children and Mr F. I hope Ann is quite well now. I shall want to hear whether you got your potatoes or not. How is Mr Kellogg now? I rather think you had better not say any thing to him in my favor; it will not do very well to hear Husband and Wife have weak eyes. How does Mrs Perse get along? Write soon and tell me all the news.
Yours Aff M.S. Vinal
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Mechisses Maine JAN 1
[Friday] Mechisses, January 1, 1841
A happy new year to my good old neighbor Mrs. Fiske, who lives across the way. Happy I am sure she deserves to be for making me so happy by sending me a letter. When it was handed me a day or two since I looked first at the post mark to see where it was from, & then at the writing to see whom it was from. As soon as I saw the latter, I exclaimed it is from Mrs. Fiske, I know it is, & thereupon broke the seal & began to read. Mr. H. asked me why I did not look at the name. I told him it was of no use, I knew it was Mrs. F.'s writing, & I was confirmed in my opinion very soon by a formal introduction of her ladyship. Did you think I had been away long enough to forget you my good neighbor so that you need to be thus particular in describing yourself in order that I may remember who you are? I have assured you of the contrary by this time, by telling you that your handwriting is enough to bring you to mind at any time. Nor need I this for hardly a day passes, but I wish you were my neighbor here, that I might run in to see you & have you come to see me. How pleasant it would be if one could carry all her friends with her when she gets married & moves away. As I cannot have all of them, I suppose it is best not to have any. I much prefer to have you in Amherst where you can visit my parents in their loneliness than have you here to gratify my wishes. You see I am selfish in all my plans, for I suppose it is as much selfishness to desire the happiness of one's dear friends as to desire one's own. I think a great deal of home this winter. My father & mother must be very lonely in having all their daughters away, & their anxiety about Mary must make them feel very badly. I have felt very anxious about her for some time. I think she has had a tendency to consumption for some years. Having once witnessed the insidious approach & the fatal effects of that disease on one member of our family makes me dread fear its approach the more on another. I do not know relinquish the hope that Mary may be better, but am almost afraid to hope. My only consolation is in leaving her in the hands of that great & good Being who loves her better than earthly friends can, & who is able to do all things for her. Hardly a night passes but I dream of home, & the inmates seem always to be in affliction. I feared when I first saw your letter that it contained some bad intelligence, & was made very happy by learning of their the particulars you mentioned in regard to your visit to my parent &c. I wish all your visits to them might have such a good effect as to make you determine to write to me. I must confess that I did not deserve you letter, & this makes me the more sensible of your kindness in writing.
What a doleful picture you drew of Amherst during the six week's vacation. It will be over by the time you receive this, & it will be just in time to congratulate you on the return of Mr. Fiske & Mr. Everybody. Your bell will again be rung as frequently as ever, & you will enjoy yourself all the better for having been left alone awhile. Is it not so?
You must miss Lucy H. very much. How significant a little word like but becomes with a line drawn under it. For instance, the one you wrote in connection with Mr. N. & L. conveyed a world of meaning to me. I wish L. may be married to a good husband, for I think she deserves such a blessing.
I have thought a great deal of poor Mrs. Moore since Abby's death. I can hardly bring myself to be reconciled to that event. I was much attached to Abby, & her loss must be felt by all her friends, but by none so much as by her poor Aunt. May she receive all the consolation religion can afford in such a trying time. I am anxious to hear the state of Abby's mind during her sickness. I have long had a strong desire that she might be a decided christian.
The principal event which has happened in my life since I returned from A. is a slight change in my local situation. I have moved a few rods farther up the street, more in the centre of the town, where I am boarding with a brother of Mr. H. His family is small & his wife's name is Deborah. (How do you suppose we get along with two Deborah's in the family?) I am very pleasantly situated. Have a snug little parlor & chamber over it. The taking care of thee two rooms, washing & ironing my habiliments, mending my husband's old coats, vests, &c & darning stockings keep me pretty busy a good part of my time, so that you need not fear my becoming too learned. Some of these occupations would bring down my ideas if ever they are in danger of soaring too high in the regions of metaphysics & theology. So when you think of me do not always imagine me to be reading a book, for very likely at that time I may be adjusting a patch on an elbow. I do not expect always to have so easy a time as I do now, for probably the trials of the housekeeper will come sooner or later, & then what scenes I may be called to pass through! I am endeavoring to lay up a good stock of patience, that cardinal virtue, against the time of need, expecting to need a double portion when I get to be head of a family.
You incidentally alluded to the weather. We experienced some of the most severe weather there has been for several years, last week. The thermometer one day stood at 22 below zero in this town, & at 30 in an adjoining village. The mercury rarely sinks below 17 in this place. We have a snow storm about every other day. Do not be surprised if you hear of my being frozen up this winter.
I keep comfortable myself by a good fire, but I often think of the poor who are scantily supplied with fuel & clothing. They must suffer much.
I hope you will not perceive any ill effects from my eating so many apples, in this letter. I have passed the afternoon pleasantly in writing it. Please let my folks now that you have heard from me, & that I am well. You said nothing of your health, but I conclude that if you are able to walk across the common in the snow, you must be well for you. I hope you will continue so. Give my love to Helen & Anna. I suppose they have not forgotten "Miss Deborah."
Mr. Harris sends his suitables to you, & I send mine to Mr. Fiske. I shall be very happy to hear from you again soon.
Deborah R.D. Harris
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Massachusetts, Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske.
[Monday] Knoxville, Jan. 25. 1841.
My dear Mrs. Fiske,
I know that a letter never received a warmer welcome than did your mammoth sheet. I was in high spirits the whole evening after reading it, & good natured for nearly a week. And you would have laughed, I am sure, could you have heard the guesses I made as to its author. I, at first exclaimed, it is Mrs. Fiske" - & then, I fancied the writing was not exactly yours, & so, I kept reading & doubting, until I had nearly reached the end. I am writing, now in "Cedar Grove," nor am I surprised at your infidelity about its trees, since having such a few places with beautiful names. But, believe me, there are veritable cedars, here, & in great abundance, tho', I doubt whether a Yankee would ever think of dignifying such a snarl of trees, growing every way, with the name of "Grove." Almost every residence, a little out of Knoxville, has a name, but is some instances, you would not [ ] that the name & place belong together. But how you all have been sick, at Amherst! And here I am, a thousand miles away, & must transmit my eyes partly, by mail. - O, it is quite too bad, that I cannot step in & keep house for sister Harriet, tho', I can almost see her laugh & tell me that she would be more nervous with me in the kitchen, than with the [ ] of impudence she had there. But am I not a "dog after the fair," in saying a word about sympathy, now? All are well, again, I trust, before this time & yet, when I read over your letter, I cannot but feel that your present when writing, is the same as my now, while reading. I have looked & looked for a letter from sister Harriet until I had thought of everything that could prevent a letter's coming, but the true cause - sickness - I never knew her so sick, before, that she could not write a letter in two or three months, & so long a time had not elapsed in three years, without my hearing from her, so I must confess, I grew anxious. But "all is well that ends well" & now, if my dear sister, Mrs. Washburn, will just send me a letter, pretty soon, I shall be comfortable again.
"A true picture of my life in Tenn." you ask for. I wish I could give it to you - perhaps I can. In the first place, let me preclude, that all Yankees are regarded with distrust & frequently with contempt. At first, & of course, every Yankee must meet the treatment which such feeling would cause, until he has established an individual character. Secondly, money is the "chief good" here, & it is a thing impossible, for a poor man to be superior to a rich man, in any respect. To be sure, there are exceptions to these generally prevailing notions, as there will be now & then a grain of common sense, the world over.
As I board with a Tenn. lady, of wealth & rank, & as she happens to take to me, wonderfully, I have received quite as much attention as I wish, & am on pleasant terms of acquaintance with more Tennesseans than Yankees, which is altogether in my favor. I am just so far from town as to understand & appreciate all the calls & attentions I receive, because they cost some trouble to those who make them. I am not, by any means, confined to the "Faculty" of "E. Tenn. University," for society, thank Heaven & indeed I had quite forgotten to assume any airs, in consequence of belonging to the august body, until you mentioned it.
Mr. & Mrs. Estabrook stand at the head as President. Perhaps you once knew them - if not sister H. can tell you about them. Mr. E. seems an efficient, tho' a very quiet man, & I am told, has raised the character of the College, considerably. Mrs. E. is, if her own opinion is correct, the most literary lady in Knoxville, & so decidedly superior to most others, that she appeared the air of a kind of lady-patroness to all Yankees who come here.
In short she is just the kind of woman that I cannot bear to come in contact with, unless it be to tease her by being just as literary as she is, & [ ] going beyond her, a little. Next in order, are Prof. Keith & lady, neither of whom have I seen. He is a Pennsylvanian & his wife stays at home, I expect, for I have heard but little of her. Then come Mr. & Mrs. Gacoin, the latter, you saw at Mrs. Washburn's gate, as you were going home from the Fair, you recollect. She is decidedly the superior of the two, I think, & so you can judge what an accession they are to any acquaintances. After all this array of dread personages, it is almost presumption to mention Mr. & Mrs. Maynard - yet they complete the "Faculty". How I am honored. There is no "Chapel" for the students, going to church is, by no means, the "chief call of man" here - all go when they like. There are three churches in town, such as they are. I would defy any one who had known our [ ] & Tenn. churches to select them. One is a Methodist church, the others Presbyterian - Old & New School, & as warm persons as Whigs & Democrats in the late election. From fifty to two hundred persons attend each church, perhaps, & the remainder go nowhere. It has been truly said that there is not "religion enough in Knoxville, to quarrel about." This was said with reference to the Old & New School parties. After saying that the ladies are all politicians here, I will let the religion, politics & literature of Knoxville, go, while I tell you some other things. Perhaps, you will judge, from all I have written, that I am not quite contented here, but be assured, that I am entirely so. I like the country, & the people with whom I am acquainted, very much, & then, there are so many new things to see & learn, that I have no time for discontent. There is only one thing that I can ask to make me entirely satisfied & as nearly to perfect happiness as "Adam's fall" will admit - That is, our old friend, who knew me as Miss Washburn - Not that I have the shadow of an objection to the name Mrs. Maynard, but I would give six pence to have some one make a mistake & call her Miss Washburn, or Jane, occasionally. Instead of this, every one calls me Mrs. M. so purposely, as if I were a matron of three score & ten years, & had always been married. O, yes, I still occupy my big room, & the only fault I find, is that some of the cobwebs are so high that I cannot possibly reach them with a broom even when in a chair - & negroes never see cobwebs. O these negroes! They are so inefficient & forgetful. There can no dependence be placed upon them & a Yankee woman, I am sure, would think her lot more deplorable with Mrs. Scott's three girls, than with our Irish woman as inflammable & explosive as gun-powder. A lady, who gives eloquent diners & is a model house-keeper, in this country, invited us to dinner on Christmas day, but said she "could give no hour, for she could not depend upon her servants, at all, as they would, sometimes, bring in dinner at one o'clock, & at others, not before three." By the way, I took the liberty to introduce you to Mrs. Scott. She desires me to give her regards, & wishes she could welcome you to Cedar Grove. She is not at all such a woman as you think she is. She is a little creature - not larger than yourself, & moves about as quietly as a Kitten - & never had any care of anything, until after her husband's death. Another instance of the remarkableness of little women.
Poor Mrs. Moore must almost feel that her afflictions are more than she can bear, for she looked broken-hearted when I last saw her. I met a lady, a few days since, who had resided in Louisville, Tenn. She says Edward Humphrey is idolised there, & when I told her, he had a sister with him, this winter, she said, "she would be overwhelmed with attentions, for they could not do too much for Mr. Humphrey." I hope Lucy will enjoy it, I am glad she is there, for she dreaded the change of scene. [ ], she is a "first-rate" girl, & as I knew her more, the more I liked her. She cooks a great deal better than Mrs. Nile. Where is Nancy Brown, & how many of that family are living? I have been asked repeatedly, about them, as every one here loved Lucy Ann, & express an interest for the family.
Mrs. Scott has just sent up a message for Sister H. which I will enjoy, verbatim. "My respects to your sister, & tell her for me, that she would cheerfully submit to your absence from her, if she knew how much your presence here, added to our happiness." Please tell sister H. that I love her, dearly, & want a letter from her more than she thinks. If she is [ ] & obliged to get a substitute, I beg she will always get Mrs. Fiske, for more reasons than one. And I wish that I knew certainly that Mrs. F. would have written me, upon her own account. Do, Mrs. Fiske, write me more just such letters for it certainly is a deed of benevolence, as much as giving money to the heathen, to say nothing of love. Please remember me to Mr. Fiske, & my love to the little girls. I would tell Helen "just what kind of a place Cedar Grove is", if I have more room. Perhaps I will some time. And dear, good, old Mrs. Parsons, I would not forgit to send my love to her, for anything, for she certainly has it. I am [ ] she is so will.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, to the care of Prof. Fiske.
Return address: Weston, Ms, Feb 10th
[Monday] Weston, Feb. 8. 1841.
It is a very comfortable feeling to think I do not owe you a letter, although you wrote last, you will recollect that you was to write two for my one, but as I thought it was better to give than to receive, and thinking you would like to hear from us by this time, I am going to manifest my charitable feeling by writing you a scribble. I cannot realize that it is six weeks since brother N. left us for Amherst, it seems but a few days, so imperceptibly does time pass. We was very glad to hear that he got home safe, and found the family all well, also to hear that you had been to South Hadley, found M. well &c. I should think the hill you have to ascend and descend in going and coming must be dangerous, I should not care about going so high after intellectual attainments as to endanger my neck. I suppose Martha went back contented after she had spent her vacation with you, we have not heard from her since excepting by having a newspaper.
Mary is at Medford spending a week, her father and mother are calculating to go for her in a few days, they will call and make Uncle Fiske a visit at West Cambrige, he was up here last week for the papers which brother N. had had left here, concerning the Fiske genealogy. Will you tell your husband that I hunted up all I could and gave him, likewise will you tell him that brother S. called for his picture pretty soon after he wrote, it was not quite completed then, he has not been in Boston since, the traveling has been bad, and wood has been dull. I received a letter from cousin Sarah by way of Amherst a few weeks ago; when I wrote her last fall I told her I thought of spending the latter part of the winter at Amherst and she took it for granted that I was there; you might have kept the letter; finding that I was at Weston, she wrote again, saying she had written to me at Amherst. She seems to be pretty well, and living quite snug in her own hired house. I received a letter from Mr. Bennett the day after your husband left here containing an invitation for him and all the rest of us to attend the dedication of thier new meetinghouse the coming thursday, the day was very stormy, none of us went.
Alonzo has had quite a rebellion in his school, several great boys, each half as big again as he is, made up thier minds that they would not obey him, or the rules of the school, they began thier impudence by carrying novels into school. A told them he should not allow it but he should punish them in no other way than by reporting them to the general committee, this he did, the committee came in and forbid having any books brought in excepting school books under penalty of being expelled, the next day they brought in a newspaper. A. took it from them and put it
on the desk, another went and took it off again. A talked to him told him to give it to him, one but he refused to One of them collared A. the others buttoned up thier coats ready to help carry him out of the school house, but A set the first down pretty quick, and told them that the first one that touched him he should strike where he could hurt the most, that frightened them so they sat down, in the afternoon J. Williams went in and turned them all out, the next day they went and held the door and forbid A. or Mr Williams going in, but as it happened they went too far, got themselves into trouble, they came the next day and was very sorry, and humble, for what they had done have come back into school and behave very well and all is going on well. We are all well and S. is waiting for this letter to carry it to the office. Give my love to all the folks.
Your aff. sister M. Fiske
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Rev. N.W. Fiske
Return address: Weston, Ms, Mar. 3rd
[Thursday] Weston, Feb. 26. 1841.
My dear Sister,
You are probably wishing to know how we got home from Amherst. We had a very pleasant ride the day we set out, rode to Princeton that night, Martha grew rather tired before we stoped, had a good deal of pain in her stomach after we got into the public house and was quite sick, thought if she could take something to make her vomit she should feel better, but I thought the less she took the better, and as quick as she was thouroughly warm, she went to bed with warm bricks and blankets, the sickness went off after a while, but the pain in her stomach continued till nearly morning, when she got to sleep and felt relieved when she waked; she took a bowl of gruel and we started off about nine o clock although it stormed, it was not cold, and we had a very comfortable ride home, it did not storm the latter part of the day. Martha bore the ride better the last day. Doct. James has seen her since she came home, thinks her stomach has become very much irritated and inflamed in consequence of her having thrown up her food so long, he has given her no medicine yet, ordered her to drink strong coffee without sugar or milk, quite often, a spoonfull or two at a time with lime water for nourishment says she may take what her stomach can bear, but be sure and not take but little at a time, she may take something often but if she takes half of a cracker at a time she must be half of an hour eating it. Aunt J. says the attack which she had at H. was probably a spasmodic fit, and partly in consequence of the ing things which were taken into her stomach when it was so inflamed.
Martha hangs on to the idea that she shall go back to South Hadley another year, but I should not think strange if she should never go back, it will take her a good while to learn to be careful of herself, and untill she is she will not have sufficient. She seems to feel attached to Miss Lion and all the teachers and pupils. I find there is a good deal of prejudice in this region against that seminary a story has been flying about her that Martha had become deranged in consequence of going there, Martha says that if any one is deranged she does not know who would but them right quicker than Miss Lion.
I do not feel at all as though I had been at Amherst, although I had a pleasant journey, and a pleasant visit, it was ever so quick it seems like a dream. Had I have known before I set out from home that we should find Martha comfortable, and that I could have got home comfortable in about a month, I should have come prepared to stay, but as it was I would not make up my mind to do it. I do not give up the idea of ever coming to Amherst to stay; but think I shall sometime come there and stay so long as to make you glad to get rid of me, but I will not frighten you with the thoughts of it untill there is more probability of it than there is at the present, while my father lives I probably shall not leave him long at a time, should I outlive him, you may be as glad to get rid of me, as you have been some of my relations, but as I have the promise of a home in our palace as long as I want one, you know it will not make one feel bad to think you had just a live I would go or not. I know you like to see folks feel independant, and so do I. Brother Sewall has brought your husbands picture from Boston. we We are all as well as usual. Father sits and reads till he gets tired then walks over to John's almost every day, to get the news.
You are probably aware that you are owing me for a visit and I do not know how many letters, perhaps a few less than half a dozen. I feel quite rich to think that I have got you into my debt so much, it is a satisfaction which you feel sometimes I presume. When you write will you write me how Mrs. [ ] does, you probably hear from her quite often. I am very sorry for her being in such a state of mind, it must make it very unpleasant for her friends, especially her husband, his being a clergyman must make his position more trying, they seem to need wives to strengthen thier hands and thier hearts, instead of those who are loads for them to carry along.
It is possible I may go to Charlestown before a great while, if I do I shall then if I have time. I have just been in to see Mrs. Jonathan Warner one of our neighbors, she seems to be but just alive, has every appearance of being in the last stages of a consumption, she has been out of health for several years but the Doct. has always said it was the dispepsia and says so still, but says she cannot live long, she inquired how Martha was, said, when I told her how she was, that her situation had been similar to hers for a great while, said nobody knew how much she had suffered from an inflamed stomach, it seemed as though it had been raw a great many times. There were two deaths in Lincoln last week, one of them was a member of our church, which makes the ninth one who has died within the short time of one year; and five have been dismissed making the number fourteen less, three or four only have been added. The grey headed man of eighty, and the blooming youth of twenty were last week consigned to thier last home, thus teaching us that no eye is free from disease and death. Give my love to all your household, from your affectionate sister Maria Fiske
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Rev. N.W. Fiske.
Return address: Weston, Ms June 4th
[Wednesday] Weston, June 2 1841.
My dear sister,
I have had it in my mind to write you for many days, but they crowd along so fast, every day bringing its work with it, that I have not found an opportunity untill now. You may like to hear from Weston, and I will give you an opportunity, but am so stupid that I have not two ideas in my head, having watched twice within a week with a sick child in the neighborhood. The whooping cough and measles are very prevalent among children in this vicinity; our school has stopped closed for a few weeks in consequence of there not being more than five or six children in the district able to attend. I am almost lonesome to day, brother Sewall and his wife have gone to New Ipswich, and Martha, she is going to shop a few weeks, it was quite a sudden start, she did not think of going untill yesterday when brother said he was going up to his pasture, and she and her mother might go, she stay, and he would ride home. Brother was up a fortnight since, I had a letter from Cousin Sarah, she is not quite as well as usual this this spring; we have the promise of a visit this summer, about this time, think probably she is at Concord now. Sarah writes me that her brother Isaac's wife gets no better, you may have herd George speak of her, it seems as if she will neither live nor die, physicians say that nothing ails her but want of exercise, her husband is very much to be pitied, he is one who needs somebody to hold him up instead of pulling him down, but nobody can have any influence over her.
Sewall recovered from his lameness very slowly, he cannot spare time to get well.
Mr. and Mrs. Newhall are absent on a journey to visit her father whom she has not seen for ten years, they were expected back last week, but were detained by her being sick of a fever at Danbury. Many of Mr. Newhalls society have grown dissatisfied with him, and said they would not pay any thing towards his support this year; others thought it might be well to get a smart man from Andover to preach, while Mr. Newhall was absent, and see if people were better satisfied with a young man; Mr. Peat procured a friend of his, but he has so much less energy than Mr. N. that his people will be very glad to get him back again, and seem more willing to raise his sallary for this year. I shall feel bad to have him obliged to go when he can have a new house to preach in; the meetinghouse gets along as fast as was expected, it will probably be completed in July.
One of Uncle Isaac's sons have just returned from some of the western states quite out of health, and has been for some time, probably in a consumption. He seems to be quite unfortunate in his children.
I suppose you are expecting a visit from your aunt Vinal before long, hope you will not be disappointed. It seems that you and mama Lewis have had an explosion, or rather, she exploded, and you let her take the consequences of it, she is so passionate I should not think she would stay long at any place.
Probably you have little time with your Polkamite, hope she will answer your purpose, for it is so unpleasant for you to keep changing help.
Do not you think Mrs. Smith misses her ten and sixpence, when she wishes for a new shawl or bonnet, besides not having Sarah to wipe and wash dishes for her. I should think with her own, and her husband child, she would have to be pretty busy to get along with her work.
We had a visit last week from Cousin Sewall Stearn's wife and Cousin Sarah.
Sarah is rather feeble, she has had thoughts of going to Ohio to spend the summer with Timothy, but has given it up since the baby died, thinks now of spending her time at home for the present. She looks and seems just as she did four years since. Father is as well as usual, he works in the garden most of the time, comes in sometimes and rests himself by laying on the floor.
I suppose your husband, and Charly, and the waggon, all got home safe, as we have heard nothing from you since; I take it as sure, if anything had happened you would have let us known it.
Martha still throws up her food a great deal of the time, her father thought perhaps Doct. Gibson might give her something that might help her. I expect as Abby is going to South Hadley in the autumn, Martha will come home, all for going back there; but she has now given up the idea of going before a year from then if at all.
I believe I have told you all the news I can think of; I would tell you how high our Peas, and corn, and Beans, are, if I could tell you a great story, but as I cannot, I will say nothing about it, for fear you could tell a bigger one.
Are not you going to shut up your house and all come and see us in the vacation. I see no reason why you cannot. Give my love to brother, also Helen and Ann, and Sarah.
from your affectionate sister Maria Fiske.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. N.W. Fiske.
Return address: Weston Ms Oct 21st
[Wednesday] Weston Oct 19. 1842.
My dear Sister,
Your letter came just in season to save you from a tremendous scholding. I had got real wrathy because you did not write, and had been thinking, when I had a letter, I would not answer under three or four months, but my wrath had abated a little, and I had thought I would write to you as soon as I returned from an excursion which I took last week, to Concord, Lowell, Billerica, &c., but yet I was a little wicked about it, for I thought you would feel bad to have two letters to answer. As your letter appeared to me when I came home, I thought I would not alter my mind about writing, but would write, and convince you, that I was clever, and very willing to overlook things when there is nothing to overlook. I am very sorry you have been so troubled about help. It seems as if after all Elizabeth is a worthless girl; you was so good to her, and she had so much time to herself, I thought she would behave well, and stay with you, but how true it is, that what is bred in the bones will not be beat out of the flesh. I wish your sickness and ill luck had been when I was at Amherst, instead of after I came away, I wish you had taken Ann and come to Weston and staid untill the vacation. Mrs. Moore would have boarded your husband untill then. I think you had better all come and spend the vacation here. I had heard by the way of Woburn that Helen was at school in Charlestown. Mr and Mrs Bennett were here a few weeks since, brought Aunt Warner over, and left her to make a visit.
she has gone home now, and has commenced housekeeping, I believe she loses considerable of money by the failure of the Phoenix Bank. I believe folks feel better, never to have money than to have it, and then lose it. Uncle Isaac, report says, had her thousand dollars, and Uncle Thaddeus something, I am sorry for him, he cannot afford to lose any thing, his work is done, and he has no children to depend upon.
I have been trying to persuade father to go to West Cambrige this fall, but I cannot, if I say any thing to him about it, he has an ache somewhere, but the truth is, he had rather stay at home and work than to go any where; he is as busy a husking corn as if he was husking on a wages. I will tell you about my ride last week. Monday forenoon I washed and baked, in the afternoon Mrs Fiske and I went to Concord, spent the night with Mrs Davis, a sister of hers whom you have never seen, Tuesday we went to Billerica, Wednesday to Lowell, Thursday back to Bedford. We found all the good folks well. Martha has got almost tired out, with her school, she finishes tomorrow her father and mother are going up to the examination and will bring her home; this makes the eighteenth week of her school. I should think she had give good satisfaction. We visited at Aunt Timothy's. Sarah is at home at the present, she had gone out to spend the day, the day we were there; her health has been quite good since she returned from Ohio. There is a probability that she may be married soon, but it is a secret yet, no one in that region knows anything about it yet, we accidentally learnt it by Mary's being there a visiting, perhaps six weeks ago. The gentleman is a Mr. Lawrence from Amherst N.H. He a widower with two children; that was the first time of his coming, he was a stranger to all the family, he probably heard of her from relatives, which she has living in that place. Lucretia thinks Sarah knew of his coming, and that she is pleased with him, and that it will not be her fault, if it is not a match; she has been expecting the second visit this some time, he sends his reasons for not coming.
We have had a pleasant visit from Cousin George Stearns, he was on his way to Brigewater in company with his father and another and Abby, they spent the sabbath there, George preached for Mr. Jappsen they left Abby to make a visit of a few weeks, then she is coming up here to make us a visit, and go up with brother Sewall when he goes up after the cattle, her health is quite good now. Mrs Stearns says Eveline is more pleasantly situated then than she was at Frankfort for they have just got into a new house which he or his father have been building, how convenient it is for a minister, to have a rich father to build him a house whenever he stops for a time.
George is wanting a parish, he would like one in this region I should think from what he said, he has preached in a small town not far far from Bridgwater, but he did not like well enough to be considered a candidate. Alonzo has gone to Berlin, delegated with Mr. Newhall to the conference of churches. Mary is busy making Edward some clothes he is going to Billerica to morrow, the rest have all been this summer, he thinks it is his turn now, Mary has not finished learning her trade, and I think it is doutful if she ever does she makes vests, and pantaloons very well and it would not be of much use to her to know how to make coats. She went a Journey week before last to Mason to attend a wedding, she went with a Mr. Russell who may sometime make your fourth nephew, he is a very good young man, and belongs to a respectable family, his parents live in Mason; his Grandmother went from Weston, was a sister of Deacon Warner. I have told you all the news I can think of now excepting that the sanitarium meeting house in Lincoln is completed and is to be dedicated soon. I expect it will thin ours some. the revival in the spring seemed o put a stop to the dissatisfaction with Mr. Newhall, I expect it will break out again after a while.
Mrs. Fiske has made Abby a very nice cloak out of the cloth, you sent her she washed it, and turned it, mended the moth holes Abby earnt money enough with [ ] Hebrew to buy fur trimming and it makes her a warm pretty cloak, she is quite proud to think that she has got a cloak with out asking father for the money.
Mr. Patch is at home taking care of William he is laid up with the rheumatism cannot stir hand or foot, I am sorry for William but I do not care if Mr P. is not fine.
I mean to go to Charleston, if I can get a chance soon. perhaps I may not, I suppose we shall see Helen here after her school is done we should expect brothers at Thanksgiving I hope it will be so warm that Ann and you can come, give much love to him and Ann.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. N.W. Fiske
Return address: Weston Ms Feb 14
[Saturday] Weston Feb 11th 1843.
My dear Sister,
I expect you will call this writing soon, you will recollect you requested me to write soon as you always did; comparing with the time between some of your letters this is quite soon. I was very glad to hear from Amherst so soon after Brother and Helen returned and to hear that they reached home in safety. I was sorry to have so little of a visit from them, their time was quite short here. I have been trying to find time to write to Amherst for several weeks but I really would not find time, therefore you will see that I do not find time for every thing. I have not been so much driven about our own little family worth, but have been finishing off loons, collars, stockings, &c. (besides ironing loons, and collars, which you know is a very pretty job,) for the annual meeting of our female sewing circle; we thought it best when the year came round to have a sort of fair, and sell off what things we had on hand; as the society were to meet here, it made a little work, last thursday was the day, the blustering snow storm Sunday and monday prevented people ladies from coming from the north part of Lincoln, but we had a goodly number, I thought perhaps it was well no more could get here, for we might get into the caller, and the house is old, we do not know the exact number which we had, not far from seventy five were here to tea, probably over a hundred in the evening, It was some work to get tea for so many, but we have no [penide?], our constitution says bread and butter and one kind of plain cake; we baked two hundred small biscuit the day before, and made election cake. At many places a table is set in the middle of the room and we stand around and help ourselves or are helped as is most convenient, but I like the way of sending tea in, the best. We made as little work of it as possible, had as many as could sit around the room and two rows across the middle, we gave them no plates, went around with large pitchers of tea and filled up the cups when empty.
There was quite a variety upon the table in the evening, needle books, pin cushions of every description; baskets, [ ], bags, cuffs, one cradle with dolly in it; one mechanic made the cradle, one lady found the doll, another dressed it &c. and an old bach. bought it, as he had none of his own. We had nothing great or valuable, the largest amount for any one thing was a dollar. The avails of the work goes to the support of the gospel amond the destitute; The widows mite was as acceptable as the rich man's abundance. There are so many pressing calls every way now for help, now that it seems as if each exertions ought to be made. We have just had an agent from the valley of the Missippi, he told such tales of distress and real sickness suffering that I felt as if I never could wear any thing expensive or ornamented. We raised about twenty five dollars, in articles and money, I forwarded a bed quilt thinking I could spare that better than any thing else.
The [ ] in our society comes upon a few, those who are most able are least willing. I wish a spirit of benevolence could be thrown into Weston; a ladies sewing circle is in operation in Mr. Fields parish, but thier charity is confined to it, unless a sanitarium meeting house is going up in a neighboring town. A lecturer upon animal magnetisms has just been here, and I presume he carried away more than fifty dollars, but go to them and tell them you want a little to assist in spreading the gospel to those who are perishing for lack of knowledge, they will tell you they are poor, have not a cent to give. We are all well and have been this winter excepting colds. Stearns Jessy is here sick with a cold, and ulcers in his throat, he is a nephew of Mrs. Fiske, is keeping school in town, had to give it up fir the week. Martha has been keeping a small school, has had a vacation, begins again next week. Mary has been up in New Ipswich and Mason visiting this winter, returned a few weeks since. Abby is at home this winter. George does not find a place to settle in yet. Cousin Sarah is quite unwell this winter, she keeps house, and can have as much work as she is able to do. Mary spent apart of the time in Mason with Mr Russells friends, I think you inquired a while ago when she was going to be executed, I presume not at the present, although she may be under condemnation; Mr Russell seems like one who would count the cost before getting married he has recently established himself in business, and will not probably think of being married untill he sees if he can live himself. He is a tin maker, and lives in Worcester, he has been there some time but not in a shop for himself. I tell Mary I shall like very well to have a half way house when I am going to Amherst.
Martha was at Billerica last week, friends are all well, you probably saw Sarah's marriage in the paper. We think Sewalls wife was very glad to have Sarah married. Timothy has a daughter. He writes that he will call at Sarah Lawrence, and that he wishes to visit Massachusetts more than ever, to see S. in her new habitation. Sewall and Obed were calculating to take thier wives and visit her this week. I have not seen any of Uncle Isaac's folks this some time to hear how George is, he went to St. Thomas to spend the winter.
William Patch continues sick yet, his father stays at home to take care of him. We have had but little help this winter, the paddy man is all and he is gone half of the time. Father has stayed out considerable untill this snow came, and I believe it is better for him than to stay in the house, for he seems more vigorous than he did last winter. Alonzo has been out considerable, Edward tends store in the middle of the day, they have been cutting considerable wood, and logs for timber and getting it to mill, Sewall begins to talk about another house, this leaks so badly it is very it is very uncomfortable. If father hears anything said about it he says if Millers doctrine is true another hour will not be needed time will probably bring about some change. Alonzo I think will not like to wait a great
many many years before he is maried, he probably does not feel as I did, that he must not be maried because his Grandfather does not want any change. S. does not feel as if it was worth while to fix up the store convenient to live in and then soon have to build a house, I think he chooses or wishes to have Alonzo be the one to stay at home or live with him and have him see to the store so that the younger ones take part of the care untill they are old enough to take care of it alone. We others grow old he does not bear his age as well as father, he needs Alonzo on the farm or good efficient help. he has been remarkably temperate this winter, have not had any think in the house all winter. I never knew the time before. Give much love to all the folks from your
We shall expect that visit from you and Ann in the Spring and if you wish Mary would like to get married you had better take her home with you, our inst wants a woman very much indeed, if he can find one of kindly make, he is a widower, has gone now to a daughters wedding he will have a inst space now in a while.
We had seven added to our church last sabbath. It was quite an interesting sabbath two were baptized one by sprinkling another by pouring on water, she knelt on the platform and a cup of water poured on her head.
Martha and Henry attend a singing school in Lincoln, they set out last monday, and almost perished without getting there, there was more snow and drifts than their father was aware of he thought they would get along there had been a path broken out in the day but the wind blew the snow in again, after they got part way they found the going so bad they would not get along, the snow so deep they could not turn around, the horse tryed untill he broke the harness and freed himself. Henry went to the nighest house any got help, and they got sleigh and horse and Martha up to the house and then they staid until morning the wind increased and the snow blew and Henry did not know what to do, he thought he could not get home on the horse and he had got so beat out with the execution he had to make that he knew he could not walk, he knew that the folks would feel anxious and probably come after them, but they drew the sleigh front of the house and went to bed, the set up untill past eleven and they did not come then called Alonzo up, he got onto Nate's back and went after them he found it almost impossible to get along sometimes he and the horse were all over in the snow bank, but he got along, and saw the sleigh routed the folks, and found Martha and Henry were safe, he then started for home when he got part way home he met his father on foot, Alonzo was gone as long about two hours, that he felt so anxious he got out and when A. met him he was on the point of sitting down in a snow drift to meet him he was so exhausted, if he had have done it and Alonzo not have seen him he would have gone to sleep and perished, but he mounted the horse, and Alonzo footed it, and all got home safe, with thankful hearts I trust.
We shall not be able to get to meeting to morrow it has been raining most of the day. Mr. Bird the Singing pastor resides in Watertown he stopped here and took tea thought he could go as far as the tavern and then foot it, but he has just come back finding that he could not get along any way. Martha also had a narrow escape monday before last, she was in Mr. Pickerings waggon with them the horse run, threw them out, broke the waggon in peaces, there were five in the waggon one young man's arm was dislocated the others were not hurt, only frightened.
Addressed: Mrs. N.W. Fiske, Charlestown, Mass
[Tuesday] Amherst July 18th 1843
My dear Mrs. Fiske
When Mary Humphrey went to Charlestown I fully intended to have written you a letter by her & reserved the day previous to her going for that purpose, but before I had commenced my work who but Kate should pop her head very unexpectedly into my room with two or three of her school companions to spend a day of recreation & as I was then feeble, it was all that I had strength to do for that day - I then thought I should write very soon by mail, but I am one of those procrastinating sort of people that never get any thing done in season unless compelled by some urgency. I believe unless I had been situated as I am in a large family when there is always something pressing upon me to have done that I should accomplish very little - perhaps that is the very reason why I have had so large a family to take care of, that I need not have the odium of laziness attached to my character.
I understand your health is not so good, though I have not been informed as to the exact state of it, but from the fact that your husband is going down to see you, I must suppose that you are considerably worse.
I am pained to more than surprised to hear it, for you have seemed so like the shadow of a woman for a long time that it now surprises me to hear of your being sick, especially since I have felt what it is to diseased about the lungs, & know how the whole system is affected by it. -- I think I feel better than usually prepared to sympathize with you, for many of thoughts which may now be passing through your mind now, have so lately occupied my own, [ ] consumption may be reaching forth this hand to seize me with that firm grasp which will surely (though it may be slowly) lead me to the grave - Am I ready? Is my faith firmly fixed on the Rock of Ages -- Will my Saviour buoy me up when I come to pass over the Jordan, that the floods may not overflow me? And then this rending asunder of strong & tender ties - for though the world in general will not be affected by it, my own family will miss me - my poor lonely husband just finished complited his half century - who will be a companion for him in his down hill of life - nurse him in sickness, cheer him in despondency, & smile when all the rest of the world may frown - and the children too who will watch over them the little ones with a mother's ceaseless love, train them with a mother's anxious care, & with the older ones, who so faithful as a mother to warn them of dangers & advise for their best interests - how many subjects in which daughters need the counsel of an experienced mother - & though we may hope that they have chosen the Lord for their portion, they are constantly liable by indiscretion & ignorance of the world to bring reproach on his cause it which might often be prevented by the faithfulness of a friend who was ever upon the watch & who like a mother, would feel it to be her business to show them their faults.
When I think of you I imagine you in the same cheerful frame of mind, which you have always manifested in your worst, as well as best health & which I believe you would were you sure that you were on the last week of your probation -- but I cannot tell you how much I wish you were here in your own house & how much I have felt your absence this summer. My health is now quite good. I only feel a small remnant of soreness in my side if I get fatigued, & that is constantly lessening. I am still sparing myself & I am more of a stranger in my kitchen than you have ever known me.
I have not seen Mr Tyler or your husband, since he (Mr. T.) returned from Pittsfield, but I understand he brings cheering intelligence from Helen. I do sincerely congratulate you - surely this is a solace in your sickness. God grant that it may be a real work of grace. Love to Ann. I expect when Jane comes home from school she will have a letter ready to send by Mr F. I have just received a letter from Mr & Mrs Perkins. Mrs P. says "remember me affectionately to friends in A. particularly the dear Mrs F. whom I sincerely love." They had been prospered in their journey - all in good health. They had a pious captain & a kind man which contributed greatly to their comfort - little Judith bore the journey well. The captain called her a very good sailor. I suspect she was quite a pet in the family & did much towards keeping up their spirits. The bishop seemed to enjoy his neat bed & bedding as much as any of the company.
They arrived at Smyrna the 7th of April - an uncommonly quick passage.
Your husband will tell you about college matters which at present seems to be an engrossing subject among the Faculty.
Commencement is drawing near & if it is the Lord's will I hope you will be able to return after that is over, but if not let us endeavor in all things to submit cheerfully to that will, though it may thwart our dearest plans.
yours with sincere affection O.W.H.
[Orra White Hitchcock]
Tell Ann she may have the satisfaction of feeling that she has made Emily very happy by sending her that nice doll she calls it her Anne Fiske & loves it better than any doll she ever had.
Remember me affectionately to cousin Martha also to your aunt & uncle if they are with you.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. Fiske.
Return address: Weston Ms Sep 1st
[Wednesday] Weston August 30th 1843.
My dear Sister
I was very glad to recieve your letter lat night and to hear that you was comfortable, and coughed less than when at Weston. We heard from you last week by way of Charlestown, called at Mr Vinals on Saturday, found Mrs Vinal rubbing the cake basket for Monday, the dreadful day, Martha seemed well, and in good spirits. she and Mr Vinal, Mr Bricker and Eunice were engaged when we first called, signing sealing and witnessing, &c. I should think from what was said. You probably have heard all about the wedding before this. Eunice is rather pretty, I should not have known I had ever seen her.
Thursday morning. Cousin Jesse Stearns and wife came in last night just as I began to write, they have been to see George and Eveline, and the rest of their friends, found all well, they thing George is quite happy. Josiah is still in Pennsylvania, but was out of health the last time he wrote.
Aunt Sarah has a high fever for going west, she thought of taking all her property and going with Timothy Stearns, our last Ashburnham cousin who is going beyond the Osage mission, this autumn, he has a sister there who went with the mission family some twenty years since, a year ago a daughter married and went into that vicinity, soon another is to be married and go, and he has decided to go and take his whole family; they wanted Cousin S. to go with them, she was quite pleased with the idea of it at first, but has given it up now, and I think it is all well that she has, for she would probably have come back without any thing if she had gone, unless she had found a husband, fir things would not always have gone pleasantly. We have had a good deal of bustle since you was here, Carpenters, masons a fixing up the store so that Alonzo can live in it, to day it is being painted; it will be considerable convenient all but water, which is some ways off the rooms look very well. Alonzo has gone to Boston today to bring home the furniture, he and Susan went last week and selected it. I do not know but you made a timely retreat from our house, for we have been drenched with rain, and the plastering in the large chamber has been down upon us, the mason botched it up, and Father has said so much about having it shingled that Sewall has got some shingles and they are at work upon it to day, the dirt comes down in every direction. Father seems quite happy, thinks now the old house will stand as long as he lives, and probably it will; if he can keep his own house, and me in it, he does not seem to care who or what goes, and I have made up my mind that I will not care, let things go as they will. Mary and Alonzo are to married in a week from next tuesday I believe it is the twelvth day of Sept. it is a week later than they were calculating when you were here. Mr Russels house would not be ready untill then. We wish for your husband's and your presence very much, I believe the time is about the close of the vacation, but if you do not feel able to to come, I think he can take Ann and come, she would enjoy it and it would do Pretty good. I wish you would all come; we shall not have more than we can keep, but all the families will not be considerable many; Mr. Allen and wife from M. will be down, Mr. Russels friends some of them, when Alonzo spoke to Mr. Newhall about coming Mrs. N. requested the privilege of inviting a friend and her husband, said Mrs. Bennet wanted to come very much and she wanted to ask them. I think Mrs Newhall is at the bottom of it. Mrs Bennet is a woman of too much sense of propriety to beg an invitation. Mary will not be married untill after tea I do not yet know as Alonzo will, there will be time enough as he will not have far to go and Mary will not go till morning.
Mr. Fiske will go with Mary and stay a week assist her in selecting her furniture, making her [ ] &c. they will board for a week. Say to Brother that Mary is pleased with his work table, it is very handsome, Susan got [ ] of the three dollar ones; took his present for a pair of table spoons, had his initials put onto them; father gave them one [ ], so they each have three. Martha was quite disappointed in not seeing you, she will go back and keep a private school after the wedding. Philander Terry is here, a cousin from N.J. he is all but blind, he has been through college, picked up some theology, and got a license to preach, expect he will preach for Mr. N. next sabbath. he makes use of the books printed for the blind. I do not see how he can get along and ever have the care of the pulpit, he must get his hymns learnt and the passage of scripture. Mrs. Fiskes knee troubles her very much at times, she has been obliged to lay by work it has pained her so much, I feel anxious about it, fear it is a white swelling.
I mean to prevail upon her to see some physician after we get settled, there is so much to do we cannot find time now as it is a good deal getter now. I begin to think folks had as good be [ ] and do for themselves as to spend all their lives doing for other folks. I must stop writing for I have got a bouncing good ironing to do, and have written in such a hurry that I fear you cannot read it. all join in sending love, and say tell them they must come. Yours affectionate and sincerely Maria Fiske.
Mary says tell uncle N he must come down so she can thank him for her present.
Mrs. Stearns says give my love to Mrs. Fiske I dont know her but I feel attached to her, she has done so much for my children Aunt Post too says give my love to them.
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mrs. Dickinson.
Granby, Sabbath eve -
Though I seldom write letters Sabbath eve, my desire to hear from you this week has led me to think it may not be wrong to spend a few moments in writing a short note, as I cannot any other time -- As Mrs. Dickinson expects to go to Amherst tomorrow, and remain with Mrs. Carter until Thursday P.M. or Friday, I want much, dear Deborah to hear how you are. I shall rejoice much, my dear friend to hear my long visit did not make you worse - I look back with pleasure upon my short stay with you - and do wish you could visit me in return I should delight to return some of your kindness.
We found our family all well on our return, and the Lord is still continuing to bless us. The Influenza, which you mentioned as prevailing in Amherst, is now very prevalent in Granby. Almost every family is afflicted at present, though none very sick.
We are expecting brother Charles to pass Thanksgiving with us. Our family are now scattered, and so many are in the world of spirits, that Thanksgiving days are sad days to me. I look back upon by gone days and the retrospect is melancholy. Is it so with you, when you review the past? I imagine from your apparent cheerfulness, that you never had those sad hours.
I know we ought to look at present mercies, and at the blessed future before us, if we are the children of God. Why should we be gloomy with such a hope. Oh Deborah, will our dear children be among the number of the redeemed. Pray for mine, dear friend. They are heedless, and full of vanity & sin.
I mentioned to Mr. Fiske some cough drops, Mother has thought a great benefit to her, and what we think much of. If Dr. Gridley is willing & approves of it, and you dare try it, I wish you would. Do not take it if you do not please. We give it to our children at bed time when they cough, and it checks it very soon.
Give my kind remembrance to Mr. Fiske - much love to dear Helen & Anne. If you cannot write, let H. write me by Mrs. Dickinson.
I have mentioned the cough drops, I have been [seal covers word] to copy them but am afraid I shall not correctly. If I can get Dr Monroe to, in the morning I will, if not, I shall send it by another opportunity.
Let me hear from you as often as you can and believe me dear Deborah, your old tried friend.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Newburyport NOV 1
[Wednesday] Newburyport Nov. 1 1843
My dear Deborah
I have this evening laid aside [ ] work so with a full determination to write to you at all events, whether I shall actually make it or not I cannot tell I have been disappointed in my attempt so many times, that I am almost discouraged. I might have written fourty letters in the time that I have spent thinking of you. I have heard from you often through home, and I presume that you have in the same way heard from me. I received a letter from you by Mary Snell, and was distressed to hear that Ann was sick with a fever, in a week or two afterwards Ann Hooker wrote me, that she was better, and that you were quite bright but since then I have heard that you have taken a bad cold, and now I want more than ever to hear directly from you, to know just how your health is and how you are situated with regards to help. I do hope you have some one with you to take the entire care of the work, so that you have nothing to do but keep quiet & easy.
Helen I presume has returned to Pittsfield, do write me word just how she appears and if you have reason to hope that she has met with a change, it must be a great comfort to you, if it is indeed so, give my love to Helen when you write to her. Yesterday I had letters from home I am very glad that Martha & Ann are with aunt. Martha it seems is again under Dr. Channings care. I do hope he will help her. I shall probably return home before long having already remained longer than I at first intended, I have had two or three summons from uncle, but I am enjoying myself here, and have thus protracted my visit, but I shall now return next week or week after. Eunice is well, she is now sitting by and reading. She says give my love to Deborah, and tell that I succeed very well in housekeeping, and do not find it as difficult as I expected. You will know how to sympathise with us in being without help, our girl left about ten days since to go into the factory, help is almost as scarce here as it is in Amherst, the girls all go to the factory. Eunice has not the prospects of any, and I am sure I dont know where she is to find one, we have now no one in the family but Mr Bricker and the children but there is more work than one can easily do, we have a washerwoman who comes in to wash and clean up, and so manage to get along very well.
If you write home do not say anything to aunt abut our being without help. I have not mentioned it her, because I thought she would worry about it when there is no occasion for it. I suppose you have before this heard of the death of Mrs. Jacob Abbott. I was surprised & grieved to hear of it, the last time I saw her she looked like a mere shadow, although she called herself pretty comfortable. It was a kind providence that Mr. Abbott returned from his tour abroad just as he did, he returned home two hours after the birth of a son, and Mrs. Abbott lived only three weeks, the infant has since died, and they now rest side by side in the Auburn perhaps you know all these circumstances but if not, I knew you would be interested to hear them. Give my love to Annie, I hope before this she is quite well, tell her I wish she could see my little nephew & niece, I love them very much, and think them quite remarkable children, they are very easily managed. I am glad for Eunice they that they are so obedient & affectionate it is not half the work to take care of them, as it is some children, the youngest one is not yet at home. We have expected him, but his uncle & aunt still keep him. I want to have him at home, and so does his father & mother, but now that Eunice has no help, her care would of course be much increased. I shall feel anxious until I hear that you have received this letter, do not think hard of me for not writing before, you know how it is, that often times are we prevented from doing what we must want to. With much love to all truly yours
Martha B. Vinal
Mr. Bricker is quite busily engaged, he has commenced upon his house and we do not have much of his time at home but this evening he has promised to come home and read to us. Friday evening.
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass
Return address: Weston, Ms, Dec 22th
[Monday] Weston Dec. 18th 1843.
My dear Brother,
I was very glad to recieve your letter last week, it was the first word I heard from Amherst any way since Mrs Fiskes letter last August, soon after her return; I was on the point of writing once or twice before the time for the vacation to commence, since then I kept thinking every day would bring you along.
I am truly sorry to hear of Mrs Fiske's continued ill health, and of the accident by which you were both hurt; but we ought to be thankful that no bones were broken; the calamnity might have been much greater. I often think you and your wife have a good share of afflictions, I seldom hear from Amherst without hearing those words of scripture brought to my mind, "through much tribulation ye shall enter the kingdom of God." I do not yet feel reconciled that your wife and Ann went home so soon last summer, I believe it would have been better for every body to have had them stayed untill Helens vacation, we did not have half a visit. I trust she will recover from the shock she received by being upset and enjoy her usual health; but should God in all wise providence order otherwise, may his grace be sufficient for you all. Under those circumstances I feel as though I must come to Amherst, although I seem more confined than ever this winter; the girls being all away, and father's averseness to going into the other room to eat, make it difficult for one to be gone. Father seems pretty well this winter but I think less vigorous than he was last winter; seems more susceptable of the cold, I believe he feels as though he was a little older than I am, for he never untill this winter would lie in bed untill I had kindled a fire; he seldom now gets up until the fire gets to burning, and I am very glad of it, for I can do it easier and quicker than he can. We are all pretty well now, there seems but a handful of folks in the other room now.
Martha is in Billerica teaching the school she taught in the summer, Abigail went home with Mary at Thanksgiving Edward stays with Alonzo and tends the store, he is coming into the house this week and going to school and Alonzo will take care of the store while school keeps. The school began four weeks ago, but the teacher did not please and after keeping a fortnight was sent off, another is to commence Wednesday. I went to Worcester a fortnight before Thanksgiving with Martha, left her with Mary untill Thanksgiving, she came home with Mr R. and Mary, commenced school the monday after. Mary seems to be pleasantly situated. Mr Russell appears quite well at home; he has not been away, pedling since he was married, they have so much custom work in the shop he cannot get away, I think he will give it up, except going about the town.
I hope your wifes health will be so that you can come down next week, the sleighing will probably be good, there is not a large quantity of snow but what there is is solid, icy. I will write a few lines to Mrs Fiske on the next page. from your sister Maria
My dear Sister,
I wish you were so near that I could look into your nursery and see how you do, and if I could be in two places at a time I would spend the winter with you; I hope you are better than when brother wrote.
I have been quite busy recently, our held sewing circle had thier fair, or auction last week, and you know the burden of such things generally comes upon a few. We met last wednesday at [Colestons], had a very thin meeting, whole families were sick with colds. Mrs Newhall was sick at home, we had neither president vice president or secritary, many thought it best to put off the sale till the next meeting, I did not like to have it prove a failure, knowing that people who were depending upon us for socks mittens &c. would be disappointed, we concluded to do the best we could, a good many came in the evening and we had a first rate sale the amount exceeded our expectations. We had Mr Bingham from the sandwich mission to preach to us last sabbath, he was quite interesting, I hope what he said will make up more of a missionary spirit amongst us. I am glad to hear that you have got decent help, and get along comfortably with them but it would be easier for you if you could be relieved of the care of your work. We are all pretty well, but we almost feel lonesome. Mrs Fiskes limb is not so troublesome now as sometimes, she consulted Doct. Hurt about it, he says nothing can be done to cure it, that it is a tumour upon the bone sometimes they may be opened and scraped from the bone, but hers being upon the knee it would not answer, said she must favor herself as much as she could, as colds or any disease would settle there and enrage it.
I hope your health will be such that your husband can come dur. this vacation. I have saved some wedding cake for you, but it grows dry. We had pretty good luck making it We heard from Billerica last week. Aunt Timothy is quite feeble, Cousin Sarah has a little daughter. give much love to Helen and Ann. from your sister M.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Dr. Humphrey
Charlestown Dec 28. 1843
My dear Deborah,
We were very happy to receive even a few lines from you by Dr. Humphrey, if we had not known that he was expected we should have been quite anxious the last week; he spent last night with us, and told us all about you so far as he knew, and we were very glad to see some one who had so recently seen you. I was glad to hear that you enjoy riding, because when you feel able it is better for you, and the time is tiedous when entirely confined to the house, but I was fearful that you would hardly dare to trust yourself again with a horse, but timid as I am about riding I enjoy it when we can send round upon wheels runners, but being tilted upon wheels is very abhorrence. Dr Gridley I presume will be in Boston before long. I do hope that he will come over to see us, but how can you spare him? he is I suppose your right hand man.
I told cousin Mary Vinal that Dr. Gridley was coming to Boston, and she said that she hoped he would call & see her. I spent a night at Aunt Vinals not long ago, cousin Gideon boards with them this winter, which makes it more pleasant for them, his family are boarding in Newton. Mary appears very well, but it seems to me that she must be rather lonely, although she seems interested in the family, and does her part towards housekeeping. I also at the same time spent a day very pleasantly with cousin Abby Waterman, are you not very glad that there is a prospect of her being well again, her limb has gained astonishly, one sore has entirely healed, and the other nearly so, and when Dr. Phelps left her, the limb was in a dreadful state, the muscles, and part of the knee pan were exposed to the sight, and her sufferings were beyond description. Your father called over to see us on Monday, he had had a cold but was recovering from it, he thinks he shall come to Amherst about the middle of January.
Aunt says I must give her particular love to you, and tell you that she thinks of you just about all the time, and sometimes she feels that she must start right off for Amherst, but her judgement tells her she had better wait until Spring. Aunt also sends a great deal of love to Helen and Ann, with thanks for Helen's letter, and hopes that she will write her again very soon and when she is as able to write as Helen is, she will answer her letters. Aunt is very well in health, but your know that it is an effort for her to write. I presume Ann has written you all about Thanksgiving we had quite a pleasant time, we were disappointed not to have your father & Charles' family to dine, but your father came over & took tea with us, and seemed to enjoy seeing the friends together. I have not heard from Eunice very lately but think I shall have a letter to day. I believe I have written you all about her domestic arrangements that will
interest you. When I last heard she has help but not very good. My love to Helen & Ann. Miss Chadwick is spnding a few days with Aunt Sawyer, or she would send love, her health is abut as usual. Do let us hear very often if it is only a few lines or by a paper. Truly yours M.B. Vinal
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs Fiske
I am anxious to hear whether your cough continues better, & gives you a little time to gain strength -- & if you do not feel encouraged that you will soon be able to ride out again. Do tell me just how you are. I feel as if I wanted to do something to contribute to your comfort - but I have not your sagacity - to know or even intuition as it often seemed in your case, to know just what to do, & when to do it.
How happy it is for us my dear friend that our "times are in the Lords hands" - & that he will direct all things pertaining to us, in the best time & way --
Let us trust in Him & not fear.
I have been making a some Quince Jelly, & Mother wants the privilege of sending a little to you thinking perchance you may enjoy it. Do not empty it - we do not want the Bowl.
Yours truly & affectionately
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs F.
I am exceeding sorry to hear that Ann is so ill, & that you are again placed in so unfavourable circumstances for the recovery of your own health. Yesterday Lucy packed up & went over to Hatfield with her family & Mary with her, or I would send Mary right down to help you. If any thing I can do in my own house for you I shall be glad to do it. I am alone here & all going to door &c I must do. I have sent you a very few peaches such as they be & think you may eat them to make your dieting go down rather easier - help to moisten the crust. I shall endeavour to see you soon.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
 Thursday evg.
My dear Mrs Fiske.
Through Mrs Washburn I learn that you are not as well fer a few days past but complain of increasing debility. It greives me much to think it must be so. I greive when I think that I shall never again see you elastic step tripping up my yard to give me a morning greeting. Your cheerful words & pleasant smiles made an impression upon my heart which can never be forgotten. Believe me my dear Mrs Fiske, I love you & think of you every hour in the day - and often do my desires ascend to Heaven that the arms of everlasting love would be under you, around you, giving you strength to bear every pain & every weakness with quiet submission.
Is there nothing that I can do for you- nothing that I can get for you that you could relish?
I send you a bunch of poor grapes thinking you may like them fer a change. These perishing fruits which quench our feverish thirst in sickness are very grateful but I cannot but remind you of that blessed Saviour to whom you are going who will pluck fer you the fruit of the tree of life, give you health of body, & health of soul, and you will never again say "I am sick." Trust in Him my friend, He will surely appear for your relief; read the 22nd Hymn of the Village Hymns commencing "Begin in belief 'tis a beautiful hymn & often expresses exactly my feeling.
My health is much better except this ugly cough which tries me this cold weather. I wish to see you and yet dread to call lest I excite you to cough, or in some way agitate & worry you. I hope the dear children are well & comforts to you in this hour of extremity - and that Prof Fiske will not get sick with his duties & anxieties.
With much love & tender
sympathy yours aff.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
Charlestown Tuesday afternoon.
My dear Deborah,
We did intend to write you a long letter, and yesterday your father called over to see us and said he should not go until Thursday, but this morning uncle called at his boarding house, & the man said he would go tomorrow, so you see I have only a few moments for writing. Aunt sends a great deal of love, & says she does want to see you and the children so very much, that she really is thinking of making you a visit, her health is very good, says she has not been as well before for thirty years, and she thinks that she can probably leave home now, better than she can in the Spring. the last of this month, my sister Mary is coming on to make us a visit, so that I shall have company, Aunt wants to spend a week or two, with you very much and if she can find some one for a gallant you must not be surprised to see her in the course of two or three weeks.
Uncle also sends love, and says if you want any thing from Boston for your comfort, you must write to him just as you have written to your father and he will be very happy to send it to you. We have not yet seen Dr. Gridley, but mean to very soon, we do not know where he boards, but uncle will call at the State house, and invite him over here, and I shall call upon his daughter Maria, as soon as we know where they are. I feel considerably acquainted with her.
It seems to me a dreadful long time since I have had a letter from you, and yet much as I want to hear, I will not ask you to write if it tires you. Give our love to Helen and tell her from me, that I do wish she would write me a letter.
I had a letter from Eunice, yesterday, she is again without help, & the youngest little boy has had the croup, she was very anxious for they thought he would die, he soon he recovered from it, but the Dr. said he must be kept from the air all winter, and as Eunice could not take proper care of him, & do her own work, Mr. Bucher insisted upon placing him in a family near by, where they know that he will be taken good care of. Eunice will have him again when she has help. She is very well, and very happy in her situation. We often hear from Martha Hooker, she is well as usual, Cousin Ann & Ellen have not been very well, they have had influenza. I have not been [ ] since I came from N.P.
This is bitter cold weather, the sleighing is pretty good, but there is no comfort in riding, when you are half frozen. Uncle has his hat in hand, and I must close. Your father will tell you all, that I have omitted to Love to Ann, & do let us hear soon.
Truly yours M.B. Vinal
Addressed: Mrs. Deborah W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the of Prof. N.W. Fiske.
[Tuesday] Weston Jan. 16th 1844.
My dear Sister,
I wish very much to hear from you, and know how your health is, not hearing encourages me to hope that you are better than when you wrote. I have thought a great deal about coming to Amherst, and certainly shall come if I am really needed, but if you are comfortable and there is a prospect of your being such so for the present, I think it will be better for me to stay at home through the coldest of the weather; I should not then feel so anxious about Father, and he would not miss me as much, but if I can be more useful there than here he will not object to my coming when needed; the family is so small in the other room that he would not be so unhappy is in times past. Alonzo and Susan say they will come in and live, but when I am gone Father thinks he must see to everything, and he would me to carry all be so much for telling Susan what to do; and how I did, that she would soon be homesick, and I should feel easier about them to have him eat in the other room. Although the contents of your last letter were rather discouraging about your health, still I have not given up the hope that you will yet be out again, and that when I heard again from you, you will be recovering your strength. Your mind has undoubtedly been exercised with seven conflicts, under the apprehension that this might be your last sickness, I have often thought that it must require a great deal of grace, and divine support, to feel willing to leave a family of children, especially for a mother, but the promises of God are unfailing, "leave thy fatherless children with me"
There has been a good deal of sickness in this vicinity, the typhoid fever has been quite prevalent. Miss H. Coburn who taught our school for four summers, who was married about a year since, died a short time since, leaving an infant daughter a fortnight old. Mr Newhall has been quite sick with a fever he seems quite quickened since. We have a very interesting sabbath school, and our missionary sewing circle is interesting the interest seems to be increasing, it numbers over seventy, I feel as though they were our two greatest encouragements; there is a good deal of indifference felt towards Mr. Newhall, I wish the people would make up their minds, either to like him, and pay him, or not to like him, and tell him so, they will not do either; he will never ask a dismission I think, if he ever leaves, it will have to be said to him in so many words, we do not want you any longer. We are trying to push up a donation visit next week a wednesday, I hope it will go off pretty well, some will go and some will stay away.
Mr Russell was here last week, Mary was well and Abbe also, she is quite content with Mary, goes to school.
Martha gets along without any difficulty as yet, I was afraid she would not, she has so many great boys.
Alonzo and Susan think some of going to N. Ipswich this winter. I am putting off writing to Aunt Sarah untill they go, it is a long time since I have written to her, she will begin to feel slighted as I am her favorite cousin. We shall probably have a visit from her next summer, did I tell you that she talked strong of going to Missouri with cousin Timothy Stearns and his family from Ashburnham, who went on last autumn; it was a wild scheme, more so than usual, which is unnecessary in her. Cousin T. died at Buffalo, on his way; his wife and children took the corpse on with them, and had it buried where they have located themselves; they had a daughter married there, likewise a sister, Roseanna Stearns, whom your husband will reccollect, she married a Mr. Jones, they went out in the Osage mission family some twenty years since. They are not now connected with a mission family, I do not know much about the particulars, but I believe they could not succeed in civillzing them, and the mission was given up, they were a wandering tribe, and about as soon as the missionaries had got located, and schools established the indians would take thier tents and thier children and start off into the wilderness.
We are all well, the boys, Henry, and Edward are wide awake about a sleigh ride which the school are to have thursday afternoon, a team is coming from Waltham sifficiently large to accomodate sixty, and all are going, teacher and schollars, I wish Helen nd Ann were here to go with them.
I wish you would write, or if you are not able let Helen if brother has not time, we are anxious to hear how you are. I looked for brother untill the vacation was spent hoping that you was better. I have not been to Charlestown nor heard anything from there since we called at Mr. Vinals the day before Eunice was married
Yours affectionately, M. Fiske.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
[Tuesday, January 30, 1844]
Dear Mrs Fiske
I cannot write for want of eyes. If I could, I am so anxious to hear from you often that I should be in danger of troubling you. Indeed, in your your present weak state I am almost afraid of saying a word to you, yet, I am unwilling to forgo the pleasure of asking, once more, your acceptance of my unworthy thanks for all your varied kindness to me, from my earliest acquaintance with you to the present time. I could not say how many times you have made me ashamed of myself. While your whole life (as it seems to me) has been spent in acts of kindness & sweet charity, how I am good for nothing, doing good to nobody. If ever I felt my impotency the want of hands & of feet it has been of late in thinking of you. But since everybody cares for you & especially as you have your own dear family around you, it would be idle for me to think that I could add in any way to your comfort. Still, I do wish to see you very very much. But I must not, I will not repine.
Rather let me be thankful for the precious privilege of gaining in the general wish or rather prayer of your friends that you be constantly cheered by the presence of your Saviour & that as the outward man decays, the inner man may be renewed & strengthened day by day. And finally, that you be abundantly prepared for the joys that eye hath not seen nor ear heard.
If you have not done with the pen, you know how much I should value a line from you.
Hoping that you will have sweet & refreshing sleep tonight I bid you farewell.
Most affly yrs.
Jan 30th 44
I am going to tell you because I think it will you you pleasure that I expect my dear daughter to come back to me very soon.
Addressed: Mrs. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, (Mass.)
Return address: No. Marshfield, MS, Jany 31st.
[Tuesday] Marshfield Jan 30th 1844
My dear Mrs Fiske
I could not have believed when I left at you at Mrs Vinal's, that more than two years would have passed away before I should have written to you, and I cannot flatter myself that my character for veracity stands very high in your estimation, for I well remember that when we parted I promised to write soon after my return to M---d. I feel really ashamed to think that I have suffered so long a time to pass without fulfiling the engaement, and hardly know what apology to offer for the neglect. it certainly has not been because I have forgotten it, or you, for we frequently think and talk of you, and it has been my intention to write, from week, to week ever since, but my time has been pretty fully occupied, the most of the time, when I have been well, and procrastination; that hateful 'thing,' has robbed me of all opportunity that I could have improved for that purpose.
We heard last autumn, (by way of Mrs. Witherh who was then in Boston,) that your health was not as good as usual, and have felt considerable anxiety about you since, but had hoped, that you might have recoverd, until last week, when I received a letter from Martha Vinal, in which, she informed me of the dreadful accident which has befallen you, and of your present feeble state of health. We were very sorry to hear that you was so ill, and much regret that you was unable to visit us last summer, as Martha writes me you was intending to do, if you had not been taken sick. We still hope that you may be restored, (if it be God's good pleasure) and that we may yet see each other in the land of the living, but should it prove otherwise, may we meet in the world of bliss no more to be seperated. ---
I was pleased to hear of the hopeful conversion of your daughter Helen. think it must be a great consolation to you, to see her giving evidence of piety in so early life. --
Since I saw you last, death has frequently entered the circle of our friends, and acquaintances, who have followed each other in quick succession to the grave. I believe that aunt Mary Clift, and Adeline, had died previously to that time, since then, uncle William and Judith, have both died, and Mary Rogers a grand daughter of uncle William's, also, uncle Israel Clift, aunt Bethiah Rogers, and her daughter Bethiah, who was buried yesterday. all these, have been taken from the number of our family connections in less than three years. --
Judith lived to attend upon both her parents, in their last sickness, notwithstanding the frailty of her constitution, but she survived her father only a few months, she lived in her sister's family after her father's death, but she felt her loss so severely, and the change was so great to her, that she failed very fast ever afterwards. ---
My health is as good this winter as it usually is at this season of the year. -- Mother and aunt Deborah are now comfortably well, they have not enjoyed very good health this winter. We have all had the influenza which has been very prevalent here. -- Brother A. was here a few days since, he and his family are very well, they reside in Duxbury.
Mother desires much love to you, and wishes me to say that she feels a deep interest in your welfare, aunt Deborah desires me to say the same for her. -- We shall all be very anxious to hear from you, and if you feel able to write, we should be very glad to receive a letter from you even if it contains but a few lines, though we could not ask you to make the exertion, if you think it would injure you in the least. -- My respects to your husband and family. -- Accept this scroll with the good wishes of
your humble friend
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
[Monday, August 5, 1844]
Dear Mrs F.
I am happy of an opportunity to send you Ann's letter. It was indeed a scene of terror, & I feel very sorry that she was there to witness it, yet as long as they were all preserved, hope it may not be an injury to her. I have written to her by this days mail, hope to hear from them again this week. From sister Hannah, (if she, & the Deacon are not blown up, or drowned, or thrown out of the Chaise, & then grinned at by their White 'beastie') I think we shall hear soon. My Mother is rather better than on saturday. The cough-drops aid her expectoration. (I thought I would get one long word) - The pitch plaister is doing its duty. Quite up to the times in usefulness!
I shall like to read that sermon, will come perhaps the latter part of the week - suppose the sermon will keep, if the weather is warm. Many that we are obliged to hear, from wandering (I was going to say - minds) - men, (doubtful whether they are burdened in this particular) have in them the principle of their own destruction. But we had two excellent sermons yesterday - how happy good Mrs. Eastman would have been to have seen & heard her darling David. Excuse the alliteration - the subject seemed to demand it. You ask what I think of your paper? Why it is strong - & that which is on it is beautiful - so I think it a happy union of strength & beauty.
Please to let me have another sheet of the same.
My Mother joins me in love to you, & Miss Stearns.
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Charlestown, MS NOV 25
[Monday] Charlestown Nov 24. 1845
My dear Mr. Fiske,
As we are not to see you, as soon we expected, aunt has requested me to write you a few lines, as you may be anxious for not hearing. Annie received your letter last week, and was pleased to hear from you, she would answer it, but it takes her some time to write, and as your vacation commences immediately, I presume a letter from her would hardly reach you, before you leave home. Ann has not been very well lately, not very sick, but she looks pale, and has less flesh, complains of pain in her side occasionally, & has some cough. Aunt delayed having a doctor, as you were coming so soon, but when you wrote that you should not be here until after Thanksgiving, she felt it best to wait no longer; and after a good deal of deliberation sent for Dr. Gregg. Aunt hardly knew what she had best do, but she knew that Dr. Gregg could be frank with her & she could seem to [ ] with him, better than with any one else, and so Annie is taking some of his medicine, and when you come you & aunt can talk the matter over together, & decide as to the best course to be pursued.
Dr. Gregg says that Ann is a delicate child, but that she has no subtle disease, but that she has a tendency to weak lungs; he has given her but little medicine, and wishes to have her out in the open air, she drinks cold water, and the Dr. recommended her bathing in cold water, if she can do it without being chilled afterwards. aunt attends to it, and we hope that she may be able to continue it with benefit. Last week Ann did not go to school last week, but has commenced to day and we hope will be able to go, with but little interruption.
Ann sends much love to you, and says that she is very sorry that you are not to be with us, Thanksgiving, your papers she has sent to day, they were forgotten last week, as she did not go to school.
Cousin Sarah & Ann Hooker are now with us, we are enjoying their visit very much, they return to Norton next week, and the first of the week following, we shall hope to see Mrs. Hooker & Helen. Miss Butler from Southampton is also spending a few days with us, & we are having quite a pleasant time.
We regret that you are not to be with us Thanksgiving, hope to see you as soon afterward as convenient. Uncle & aunt are well as usual, & desire to be remembered to you.
I am quite in haste, & will not stop to write more, and you will soon be with us to hear all the news.
Truly yours M.B. Vinal.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
Dear Mrs Fiske
The pillow which you very kindly sent for our dear Caroline's comfort she enjoyed much for a day or two, after which time she became rather tired of it and it was laid aside.
It should have been sent home before but was out of sight & consequently forgotten.
We do feel much obligated to you for your oft repeated acts of kindness and attention and shall take pleasure I trust in trying to return the like favours whenever it is in our power.
Affectionately Yrs E.D. Nelson
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs Fiske,
I send you a taste of our preserve barberries that you may see if you think the addition of pears any improvement. It is not a fair specimen of this mode of doing them the pears are so poor, but we could not obtain those that were good. I was truly sorry to learn that you had taken cold, and were obliged to resort to so uncomfortable a remedy as blisters. It requires considerable fortitude thus afflict one's self, and I do hope you will derive benefit from them far exceeding the suffering they occasion.
Mother and sister send their love.
Yours very sincerely,
A patient of yours residing in the house with us, last evening brought me in a sample of the bun mixture that you had sent her, which she informed me was compounded by yourself. It appeared so simple in its composition, was so agreeable to the taste, and so salutary in its effects, that I wish to inquire if you would be willing, at some convenient time, to give me a receipt for preparing it. Do excuse the liberty I have taken in making this request, and be assured that if you will be so kind as to favor me with the receipt it shall not be the means of lessening your practise as a physician.
Addressed: Mrs D.H.V. Fiske Present.
Wednesday Morn -
I know, my dear Mrs Fiske's generous heart, will know how to pardon, our so long delaying to call, or write to thank you for the unfeigned, and unexpected kindness, and attention received during our past trials. -- Such devotedness can never be forgotten be assured -- And (altho' may Heaven grant you, my dear friend, never know the anguish which is our sad fate to do) - yet if ever in any way whatever we can make any return -it shall be done with a most cheerful heart.
Yes! Mrs Fiske you were kind to Mary too: Never shall we cease to love you for it. -- You know how dear she was to us. - You know she was all to me - an only sister! but another part of my own being! Yes! life is sadness, and dreariness to me now! All: every thing - in life has assumed a new aspect - brought but weariness, and vexation of spirit.
My heart is sore. As a leaf tossed upon the autumnal gale; The early rose-hues of my life are pale.
Its garden drear: Its bowse deserted; for my singing bird, Among its dim retreats no more is heard.
Altho' my dear Mrs Fiske, you have never, wept in the grave of an only Sister, and "sighed to think how sadly, Death can sever human ties." - yet I know you pity me, for you have proved it - my sincerest thanks are yours let me assure you, and never never shall I forget it --
The books you so kindly sent us, Mother has not quite finished -- I have read them, and was very much interested in them -- We will return them soon, and feeling very much oblidged, hope you have not wished.
The pillow-case also for which Mother returns many thanks -- -- She desires - her sincerest kind love, and most heartfelt thanks for your unwearied kindness, to herself, and all of us -- Words - what are they - they cannot say all --
Will you - my dear Mrs F. - let us know how is your own health, whether you were not quite exhausted, with your efforts and also - how are your family, Do - (will you not) come in socially and see us) take your work and spend a long afternoon - any time - Let your children come with you!
and believe me to be,
Your most true and
grateful friend Sarah G
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
My dear Mrs Fiske,
When I called at your house some days since you enquired of me whether I had any patterns for working muslin - I am ashamed not to have before this sent you what few I have - These are not many pretty ones, but should you fancy any of them I shall be most happy to accomodate you - I have also (do not be offended-) sent a collar which I worked for myself when in Fitchburg, which if you would accept as it is unfinished (ie without a ruffle) - I shall be much gratified.
The piece of lace enclosed, Mother desires me to say, she thought might be useful to Mrs Smith.
How is your health, Mrs F. this damp dreary weather? Mother would be remembered --
Yours truly, in haste,
Sarah G. Thurston.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs F.
I have not heard from you for some days, & I think you will be surprised if some messenger does not reach you from this old Parsonage by today. I am going to send to enquire for C Nelson, unless you can tell how she is, for I am very anxious to have a school again, for our little boys.
I have not yet thanked you for your for your Pony which gave us a good ride to Plainville. Mother has been wanting all New Year to visit an old Parishoner, but there has seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. She went & is better for it. Your head cheese too, (I have nothing to do but say "thank you") we think very much of.
Mother says she has given away scores of them because she knew of no such appropriation of them. I wonder how you came to know every thing --
The weather seems unpromising for the ordination. I wish you was well enough to go.
Smith made me feel badly by saying "how changed Mrs. Fiske is in her appearance!" I know you are very thin & pale, but I can't bear to think you will not be as well as ever soon.
With much love yours
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs. Fiske
For a long time a reflection upon your slate has made me sad, but your last note has elicited many a tear. Not on your account, but my own, & others to whom you are equally endeared. "A word in purchase for a friend is gain" - & such I have ever found you, to an extent unequalled by any other; true, faithful, trustworthy. And I heartily respond to a sentiment of sister Laura "if Mrs Fiske should die one of the brightest spots in in Amherst will be darkened". But my dear Mrs F. it is a selfish grief. Bright & enduring joys I trust are in essence for you. Through the abounding grace of God, you have dedicated to Him, affections sanctified by His spirit, & a life which you have long felt was not your own, having been bought with a Juice no less than the blood of His eternal Son. Clothed in His perfect righteousness you may bid defiance to the powers of darkness, & undisenaged, clinging to His cross, enter the dark vally of the shadow of death" assured that His presence will illumine that darkness. What could poor [ ] sinful creatures do, when death approaches, if we had not an all atoning Saviour! Thanks be to God, sooner shall heaven & earth pass away, than one of His promises shall fail. Trust Him then my dear frined with all you have. I have experienced the fulfilment of the promise "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them" - If Motherless the same kind promise is sure.
How is the pain in your side? I have made you a little jelly from [ ]. My receipt says "nice brown sugar give a better color." I am sorry I did not use loaf sugar I think it would look better.
Mother would have enjoyed the tripe you sent her, very much, but she felt that she was taking so much from you that you needed.
Most aff yours.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
My dear Mrs Fiske
When will you ever forget the degraded use which I told you I made of some of your cheerful & friendly notes.
When I had done so bad & unjust a thing as use them for lamp lighter I wonder I had'ent wit enough to keep it to myself. I have felt so self-reproached that I have not done it for a long time.
That bread. I expect to bake to morrow - but- how shall I work it, surely I cannot send bread to such a family as Judge D's without showing great arrogance as to my skill. -- And after all I fear she will be disappointed & make her self-denial the harder to bear.
However I shall be very happy in any way to contribute to her comfort - I will manage to send her some. I went out last evening & have some cold & headache to day - & hardly think I can visit you to-day - & further I have promised Mrs Snell one of my first visits. Will you not go there with me some day this week. By the way you must be very careful of yourself in the damp chilly weather that is coming on.
My dear Mrs Fiske
You are the best giver I knew - All my good friends send me such very nice bright things, that I am afraid to take the covers or papers off but you send the very things I want - the very things which make me glad - and thankful that Mrs. Fiske is still in the land of living # - Do come over and see whether I make good use of all your gifts - for I scarcely move in my work without using some one of them.
Will you not soon favor us with a visit. You have so long talked that I would now like to see something better. If I had not been so anxious to get all the help I could in the way of fixing carpets & beds, from my two brothers I would have had time to tell you of more things which I think -
# Not that I wish you to die so soon as you have done doing me favors.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
My dear Mrs. Fiske
I am not surprised at the account you give of your kitchen adventures. I have for some weeks expected a crisis like what is now taking place. To dwell with infernals while on earth, or with Spirits near akin we cannot do without sacrificing all our peace of mind. I think it will be much for your comfort to let her go. It is a good season to change "help." Mrs Moore had engaged a girl at the South part of the town, unless she heard from Charlotte Mack that she would live with her this summer. I know nothing of the girl but if Mrs M. does not take her possibly she might answer for you. I feel concerned for your feeble health in doing so much of your work at this season of the year as you will do without some one to take the heaviest part.
Possibly that good girl that was at Mr. Hunn's last winter may change her mind and not go West. Rev. Mrs. Tyler told me two weeks ago that a sister of her girl, who was a very efficient girl was disengaged then & I should think might do well for you. I expect however she might require high wages.
Mr. Humphrey feels a little better than he did two or three days ago but I expect a sitting of the Prudential Committee to day will exhaust what little strength he has now in possession. I thank you for the cranberry but feel reproved by it for my neglect of you in your illness. I wonder if you would not like some of "Mrs Humphrey's nice bread." If you want I will see that you have some of it. I thank you for information in these most interesting concerns of your family. Surely I regard it as part of the friendship of families which I am happy to think does exist between yours & ours.
I should see you more but like some of your other neighbours I am so engrossed in my own affairs. I have a bed quilt on hand to quilt this week in addition to two that I have quilted this month.
I am thinking much, very much on my childrens return. I have not heard from Lucy since she went to N. Orleans but hope to see her, & John, & Mary in three weeks, if providence favors.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske
My dear Mrs Fiske
I do hope you will not even approach to such a wish that you should be tired of this porridge - but only be thankful, that you can relish one thing even, & this so simple an one. I am very happy that I am favoured with one thing I can do for you. Do not take it old & flat so as to lose your relish for it. We are very grateful for the brown bread you sent us. It was a rarity & much liked. We only feel sorry you should trouble yourself about any return of the very little I send you.
As to your fathers great box - of Herring it surprised us all. It is very acceptable & thankfully received. Our respects & grateful acknowledgments. How are you to day.
I hope you may find some things in the "Mute Christian" that will comfort your heart & bring your mind more directly in view of the dealing of a most merciful God & with trust & confidence in his love & holy providence.
Addressed: Mrs. Fiske
Dear Mrs. Fiske, I am quite thankful to see your messenger, & hear from you - the tumbler was not worth a thought, much less a dream. We have one of your coffee cups that could not be sent home when the other dishes went, because there was a large load without it, & it has since been neglected. I am sorry that your kindness are ever bestowed on such negligent creatures - or "critters". As for your dream about my uncles' widow! I cannot interpret it. It is singular I have no own uncle that has left a widow. Aunts, that are widows, I have, & single aunts, that I would rejoice to see, & when they come, you must come here & see them I [ ] nor wish them to be away a whole day! Old Pratt, Mr Bonnet-maker was in on Saturday, & looked up at my lady-stayer & says "is this your Aunt?" - now what connection there can be between his words & your dreams, I leave for "the Lecturer on Dreams" & all that to decipher!
The person who is with us now, is a Miss Pamelia Manfred, from the south part of the town, she helps us - & is sewing also - & is a real comfort. She is sensible, discreet, quiet, neat, expeditious - & least I should exhaust the list of adjectives in the English language I will forbear, & ask you to come & see, & judge for yourself. -- She can prepare a breakfast, or dinner, & we can eat it without a dissertation from the cook on the Digestive powers of Nathaniel, the expectoration of Enoch, the internal construction and misconstruction of Candace, Hannah, Elizabeth & Mary - & all the evils that so necessarily result therefore! What a string of scripture names that I have recently heard in daily use! so that my name became "household words"! almost kitchen utensils! I ought to say culinary idees!
Last week I looked over my extracts from Cowper - as you love him & trumpet if you had not his lines to Mrs.[ ] you would like them, so please to accept them - also the account of Mrs Powlez.
Ann joins me in love to you. We are pretty well.
Yours most affectionately
Sorry Helen is sick - hope she will now be better.
Helen Hunt Jackson
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