Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-5 transcription
Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 5, Letters from Deborah Fiske (HHJ's mother) to Nathan Fiske (HHJ's father), 1840-1841
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Waltham, Mass, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Nov 27
My dear husband
I am going to give you one real peep at us through a journal whether you will get a second will depend upon the satisfactory, or unsatisfactory report you make to me of yourself and doings. You remember I suppose that you left here Tuesday noon; well, after watching you out of sight, I came back to the sitting room and broke up a contra-dance for which the chairs seemed to have arranged themselves. I had no idea of having anything make merry because the good man had gone a journey; then sat down in the large rocking chair and went into a sound sleep, showing how calm and rational I can be under all sorts of deprivations, even when a part of my very flesh is carried off - woke up and thought I should never grow rich, so - put on my bonnet and I went over to pay Mrs. Benjamin for the work she has been doing for me; called at Mrs. Hitchcock's, Nathaniel had just arrived from Springfield to spend Thanksgiving; returned and sent Martha and Helen up to the village for a walk and the papers. George came in before dark. I ordered an early shutting up of all doors. George staid nearly all the evening playing checkers and morris with Helen and Martha, rejoicing every little while at having some recreation that was going to be just the thing for his health.
Wednesday - got up at no matter, what o'clock, was sorry enough to find it snowing, almost wished you had never thought of starting. After breakfast sent home Dr. Gidley's books by George, with a note of apology and thanks. Miss Nelson sent in word that there would be no school the remainder of the week; Jane and Charley called for Ann and stayed to play with her on hearing the good news. There were so many about, & so much going on, thought I would not set Helen to studying, and as a substitute, gave her her box of sewing treasures to put in order; "well," said Helen, "I'll have an auction then" so she elevated herself by the table for auctioneer, and bid off "going," "going," "gone," all the rubbish to Jane Ann & Charley. When Jane went home, I sent Mr. Hitchcock's books, and an invitation to Mary Catherine and your daughter, Miss Caroline White, to come in and take tea. After dinner George set down again at playing checkers and morris with the girl, laughing most heartily now and then at his good or bad luck, and then laughing again to think he had something to laugh at.
The young ladies came in just before dark. After tea George said he believed he must be excused - I couldn't imagine why, but of course manifested no surprise - after he had got into the entry he put his head back and said he would like to see me a moment; not anticipating an offer, I went out for a private interview without any trepidation - the disclosure made was this, that after all, he didn't know but he had better go away - he had read some in the afternoon and found it exhausted him and he didn't know but his friend at Rutland would think it rather strange if he didn't go to see her, etc. etc. etc. then he wanted my advice about it, which I gave him at once, to go by all means unless he had a decided preference for remaining, there still remains one difficulty - the best way to go, - by Montague or Worcester, each way had its advantages and disadvantages - it was decided not to wait in the entry to weigh them as the morning would answer; he went up to the President's and I returned to the sitting room. Soon the Judge came in to make one of his neighbourly calls - a little while after Mr. Gale, - he had been to Mrs. Hitchcock's - and she told him the young ladies were all at our house, and about half past 8, Dr. Gridley appeared as he said - to see how I was getting on this bad weather. So there was quite a party of us by mere chance. George came in about 9 in better spirits than at tea and just after, but still, of the opinion that he had better go. That Miss White is an uncommonly pretty girl - altogether superior to her mother.
Thanksgiving day - Awoke wondering where in the world you were - tried to believe you were at Weston, but was very much afraid you and Charley were all tired out at some place 20 miles this side. All went to meeting but Sarah; I kept her at home because her head ache was not quite gone. Mr. Colton preached, with Mr. Fowler to make the long prayer for him. His text was "thou crownest the year with thy goodness" - a very respectable sermon, but nothing remarkable; I went wondering what it would be - it is so long since he has preached much. He praised the magnanimity of the democrats and the moderation of the triumphant party, and looked upon the bright side of all the interests of the country. I suspect it was very well received. After meeting I called in at Mrs. Bent's intending to take Thatcher home, if we had found the poor little fellow alone, but Samuel had returned to spend today with him and a niece of Mrs. Bents - a young lady from Framingham was there. So Martha and I and the children had the table to ourselves. George dined at Mrs. Tyler's and started for Rutland by the way of Montague immediately after. What a pity he has so little decision. It is better to decide wrong sometimes and go ahead than to be always wavering about every little thing. Mrs. Lewis has done well so far; the children are quite well; they are taking supper in the kitchen more with Sarah Humphrey, Mary & Martha Snell and Catherine Baker. Ann pours out the tea (milk and water) out of Helen's little cups and saucers. If you buy Ann any present, I wish you would get her a crockery tea set like Helen's (chocolate colour and white, I presume you remember the size. Do write often and be definite - I miss you very much and this is all I shall say about it for fear some of my grandchildren will find the old letters and publish them; - for all the world I wouldn't make my readers feel as I have at my stomach over Mrs. Adam's moanings at the absence of her "dearest friend" - it is well enough & natural but how such tender sentiments do sound to a third person.
Our turkey was very good, and tho you won't believe it, it is a fact that I carved it as well as any gentleman - better than some could. The children both thought it "too bad" that Papa was not with us, they both speak of you frequently. The first morning after you left Ann said, "I've a good mind not to get up for Papa won't be here if I do."
Martha seems to enjoy her visit, and I really enjoy having her here. Helen went down to Mr. Sanford's with her this afternoon to see if her room mate was there; she had not come over.
I've just received a letter from Cousin Martha Vinal and Cousin Caroline Tufts - be sure to tell them I've received it and thank them for it added very much to my Thanksgiving day.
The letter from Philadelphia I believe I ought to send you. I guess they are all rogues together and that you had better take the fortune you make lecturing to pay your expenses to Philadelphia so as to see with your eyes what they are all about, and who has got your books and money.
Good night, yrs. aff. D.W.V. Fiske.
Hugh Mercer, orig. interred in Christ Church yard (Princeton?) was moved Nov. 22 to Laurel Cemetry at Philadelphia ______ Addressed by W.B. Reed, Esqr.
Copy of a letter just brought from the office - from Mr. Greenough to you
Dear Sir: I have understood that you set up a claim against me for copy money on the sale of the Manual. If this is the case, please to inform me, on what grounds and to what extent. Mr. E.C. Biddle claims to control the copyright. Under the impression that he had an agreement with you about the copy right and was bound to you for the copy money, the entire edition (remaining on hand in April last) was sold to him at cost, exclusive of copy money, and with the understanding that he would pay you the same. I am sir, very respectfully, your obt. servant.
Philadelphia, Nov. 24th Heliere, W. Greenough
Friday morning, All well.
Mrs. L. has just appeared and says "you give my love to Mr. F. and tell him I do miss him very much indaad and that I did wish he was here to eat some of my good turkey, and that the apples are all picked up and taken care of out in the new building. The wood has come and Mr. A. has thrown it into the shed and is coming to cut it up.
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske - To the care of Mr. David Vinal
[Dec 1840] December 1st, Tuesday afternoon
I can send you a word or two by Judge Dickinson, and will do it, tho rather doubtful when it will fall into your hands. Perhaps your luck, good or ill, will take you off in some other direction, but sooner or later it will bring you back I trust, and when it does, I will thank you to carry these handkerchiefs to the Dye House in Braith Street; the Agent will give you a certificate, and tell you when they may be called for. We were very glad of your letter last evening, and I am waiting for Thursday to come because you have promised me another, or rather intimated that I might expect one then. We are all as well as usual, and I get along comfortable, the children are well, and Marm Lewis does as well as she can, made of such combustible materials. I really think she opens her eyes on the morning feeling absolutely cross; - she often looks as if she would bite a nail off before any one speaks to her, and when they speak whatever is said she takes for her text and holds forth as you have heard. She hasn't been angry but twice since you left - the first time I stood by to see the end of it - her rage was at Sarah. I made her stop calling her names, the second time - today at me, and I wouldn't stop, no stoop to notice a word she said. She knocked the chairs about and cried & scolded till she got tired of it and stopped. This afternoon she feels all the better "is tamer far for so much fury shown, As is the course of rash and fiery men."
You must make the best of Helen's note, I have been so busy making up this package I could not stop to make her careful.
Look out well for your health while you are driving about, and be sure and not preach for every minister that sets a trap for help - remember how easy it is to inflame your throat, and if you get sick the first of the winter how difficult it will be to recruit again.
I am well for me, my voice is really troublesome, it is so weak and hoarse, but I feel pretty well and cough but little.
You don't know how careful I am of myself and the fires and everything because you are gone.
A son of Mr. Howe the butcher five years old was so terribly burnt on the sabbath by playing with fire that he died yesterday morning. His mother had not been out of the room five minutes when he met her at the door screaming, surrounded with flames. He had a calico apron on, he was a very promising child, the family are deeply afflicted. He had his reason to the last, and said to his father when he knew he couldn't live "where shall I go?" Two negro children were dreadfully burnt down in East St. this morning - one an infant in a cradle - its clothes were nearly all burnt off. Why they were left I don't know.
Ann says "tell Papa I send my love to him and hope he has a good time."
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Boston, MS Oct 7
[Oct 1841] In Aunt Gideon Vinal's sitting room
So you would really like to hear from your "most respected and dear Madam," well, the only reason the lady did not write to you was because it seemed to her, and she thought it would seem to you Sir, all nonsense to send two letters filled with the same thing, and that same thing nothing in the world but "Marm's" safe arrival, and who Marm was seeing, and where Marm was going, - information for which you wouldn't pay two cents a volume, but which Helen would jump to receive, so Helen had the letter, while you was left to wonder at not hearing directly from your leaner half.
Well now for my state of mind. I have been wondering at not hearing from you, so we are even as to wonderings, and this is the only respect in which we are even I should judge from your letter, for what a dismal time you have had, riding in such a storm, splitting kindling wood, making and spilling tea, etc. etc. The storm is over with us, and I hope it is with you, and that everything in doors and out will look much brighter when this letter falls into your hands.
Very fortunately I decided to go over to Uncle Otis Vinal's Saturday afternoon, the best place in the world not to mind a storm - their house is so finely warmed, and who should be there but Mrs. Rogers from Marshfield (the kind "Aunt Rachel" who took care of me so many years) with her daughter. I have enjoyed seeing her very much and seeing her daughter too, she is a fine girl, sensible XXX cheerful XXX social and affectionate; she speaks of her deformity and says, with evident submission "I have no reason to complain."
This morning, being pleasant, we all came over to Boston, and I have been out shopping with Aunt Rachel. Cousin Mary has gone with her now to make a call, so I am the lady of the house, sitting in the parlor writing to you, but where I shall be when you read this there's no predicting, as my business is visiting. My baggage is at Uncle Otis's, and I shall probably be there more than at any other place for about ten days.
Mrs. Bennett called at Aunt Vinal's to see me last week with an invitation to visit Woburn, and if I hear no news from home to hasten my return, I intend to go and see her; she questioned me so closely about Joseph - in all sorts of forms, that without telling a downright falsehood, I could not avoid telling her that Joseph was not very well fitted - she replied "I did not believe he was well prepared." I added all the other good things that could be said to make up for telling the truth, and I did not see that she felt badly, but I suppose she did, for she is ambitious, and ambitious mothers like first-rate children.
I am going to Weston, but have not fixed the time, as I am having some work done that must be attended to.
I was very happy to meet Mr. Clark who used to board with us, in Washington St. today; he lives in Boston. He enquired for you, said he should call at Uncle Otis's.
I have called on Mrs. Adams, her husband was out, I intend to call again at an hour to see him, she was very glad to see me as Aunt Sally used to say, and said Mr. Adams was very sorry to return to the South without seeing you. Mrs. Adams is just such another as I am, only more interesting if possible; she coughs mornings, is hoarse all day, knows she is sick, and yet feels pretty well, and don't know but she will live as long as most folks after all.
Do be careful about preaching - you know how it serves you, and then such horrible rides in the cold - wait till my close carriage is finished and then it won't be quite so bad. I wish I had left more good things in the closet for future storms, buy some crackers to go with your butter and cheese and make your cake hold out - that is the way to keep house - the way I do.
I am glad you have been to see Helen, and hope you will go often. I cannot but hope she will behave well. You would laugh to see her letter to me - a whole sheet filled - telling the whole about everything in a most amusing way and winding up with saying "So you see I am living like a queen, and leading a happy life;" she speaks of a Lewis Flemming, sick with typhus fever, and tells how he is from day to day. I hope he is not in the family, but have been afraid he might be because he is a young man under their care. Helen does not say that he is there, but I fear he may be. I trust you will write often, for though I don't allow myself to feel anxious, if you do not let me know that you are all well as often as once a week I shall fear some of you are sick. Are there any more cases of fever in Amherst? or in our neighbourhood.
Give my love to Mrs. Moore and Miss Drury (dont you forget it) and ask Mrs. Moore the no. in Washington St. where her nieces live for I wish to call and see them. Tell Mrs. Washburn that Mrs. Williams found such pressing letters from her husband at Boston that she started right off the very next day for Exeter. Sophia was almost provoked she says she don't approve of this fidgetting - "just as if she must go that minute." Mrs. W. and the little boy endured the ride well. My love.
I hope you will be able to read and understand this document, it is more than I could do I really believe, for Aunt Rachel and Mary came back in a moment and a Mrs. Somebody came in and perhaps half I've written is scraps of their conversations.
Much love and a kiss to Anna. I do want to see the children and their father too, but I am enjoying my visit very much and the suspension of kitchen cares.
Papa handed me your letter this noon, so you see your letter is answered at once.
That you may get this valuable letter right off I am going right off with it to the post office - quite a walk - but it is what I am happy to do for you -there! isn't that a speech for such a caring for nobody body as your daar wife. D.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Boston, MS, Oct 15
 At Uncle Scholfield's
Friday afternoon, almost dark
My dear husband,
Please to tell me why my last letter (which you have but just received) "should have been followed by another ere this" - "it is very foolish to be in such a fidget for letter." I have been taught, and now I will teach you the same thing, for I have a very special reason for not writing often, nothing will happen that you would care about. The third north east storm has just commenced, but I neither feel them or mind them at Uncle Scholfield's or Uncle Vinals, their houses are so comfortable, being warmed by furnaces. Ann tells me to give her love to you and say that we are having a "dreadful good" time, and that you must be contented ever so long yet, for we are, but just under way with our visit. Ann is very much better, and Ellen and Adeline are both very well and very cheerful, they tell me to say that they have helped themselves to the love you sent, and have taken their portion from what you forward to those who value it. I hope you will not become so vain and conceited from compliments from abroad and attentions at home that I cannot live with you.
I have filled up Mr. Perkins's letter and shall send it to the Missionary Rooms tonight. It rejoices me to hear so good an account of Helen Maria. Miss Harriet Dickinson sends me a few lines which were so much more than I had dared to hope - they made me weep for joy. What does Anna say? I am not anxious, for they will be very kind to her I know, but do you think she feels under such restraint that she would not dare to speak if she hadn't had supper enough? I think Ann is really diffident among strangers, Emily wrote me that she was a very good girl, I thought she would be.
My father is very well, and I have seen him a great deal without putting up at Mr. Carter's, for he has visited quite often at Uncle Otis Vinal's - Aunt Rachel (Mrs. Rogers) was there from Marshfield with me during the first storm, and I sent over a letter to him telling him she was there; how happy we should all be to have him come over - how much I wished him to forgive and forget all that had occurred, etc. and to be sure he came the very next morning - the next day - then in an evening and once to tea. He shook hands with Uncle and they both seemed just as they did years ago. I cannot tell you how glad I am, and it seems as if Papa was happier for having done it. I expect to go to Newburyport next week, and to Weston the week after to stay a week with Maria. Mr. Bennett called to see me this morning; quite early it was pleasant, and he came with Mrs. Bennett to Charlestown expecting to find me at Uncle Vinal's and intending to have me return with them; it was very kind in them, but the weather was so unpleasant by the time he called at Uncle Scholfield's, he did not suppose I should venture out. I keep as close as a bird in a cage in these storms, for I would not have it said that coming to Boston was not the thing for me, for a thousand dollars, though I should like amazingly to hand you over such a sum. Aunt Vinal seems quite well again, but Uncle Gideon has lost flesh, and complains of a pain through his shoulder and side, which I fear threatens consumption. Cousin Albert's youngest child was but just alive yesterday - a fine little boy 18 months old, they are much afflicted. Write again very soon; tell me how Mrs. Moore is, where you have visited, etc etc. Direct your letters to Papa, but should the children be sick write to Aunt Vinal, directed to Uncle Otis's care, for Papa will go with me if I go. Are there many cases of fever in Amherst? Don't hesitate a moment to let me know [tr. note: wax covers part of the words]e or the children should be sick. Much love to Helen & Ann.
Yours aff. D.W.V. Fiske
The first pleasant day I am intending to consult Dr. Jackson respecting my hoarseness, it is no worse, and in all other respects I feel much better than when I left home, but I place confidence in his skill, and Papa says tho he has no confidence in physicians, if it will be any satisfaction to me he will go with me.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Boston, Mass, Oct 24
[Oct 1841] Saturday Morning.
At Uncle Gideon Vinal's.
I was right glad of your letter Thursday noon, and have been glad ever since to think that you are all getting along so well, - growing fat, and behaving better than ever before in your lives. I am glad Thanksgiving comes no sooner that this good state of things need not be interrupted just yet. We have had such a succession of storms I have done nothing but run between them to Uncle Scholfield's and Uncle Vinal's, there is nothing I would have enjoyed more, only my plan was to go to other places first.
Perhaps you will be glad to hear that I have consulted Dr. Jackson respecting my hoarseness. I have been to see him twice and he has talked the whole matter over very definitely and candidly, his prescription is a mild tonic which he says cannot increase my cough, washing my neck very thoroughly three times a day in the coldest water, and gargling my throat in very cold water several times a day. Dr. Jackson says this hoarseness has nothing to do with my lungs, but is a weakness, or disordered state of a certain little spot about the opening of the wind pipe, he said it was an obstinate difficulty to remove, and gave me no encouragement that my voice would ever be strong and natural, but it is not immediately dangerous, and he thinks I shall be benefitted by the course he has prescribed. As to consumption, he said two thirds of my acquaintances were in as much danger of it as I am; he thinks going to a Warm Climate would be of no service, and says I must accustom myself to a variety of temperature, keep out in the air, no matter how cold, only be well protected - and as to dieting he said a generous living was the best for me, neither dieting or starving was the thing. My cough Dr. J. thinks is occasioned y the same cause as the hoarseness; the acute ill turns I have now and then, he said he could not judge about, without seeing me in them, they might be occasioned by causes very different, but there could be no objection to my mode of removing them by blisters and tartar sores excepting the suffering which I told him I did not mind.
So you see Dr. Jackson calculates to have me live some time longer; his explanation of my hoarseness accords exactly with the feeling in my throat, but I know after all, he has shown me the difficulty in a book (a book of plates). He cannot promise me long life; the number of my years is not with him.
Helen continues to write to me very regularly, and in a way that makes me hope she is doing very well. In her last letter she said "Mother the hardest thing I find is to keep decently clean." It amused & gratified me, for at home she was very much at ease on that point, tho no worse than children generally are.
My love to Mrs. Moore, you have forgotten to tell me where her nieces live. Tell Mrs. Washburn I took tea with Sophia Friday, that she was pretty well, and little Susan much better, really gaining flesh under the homeo-pathic ("o! my apathy") system.
Edward Beecher is in the City; begging for the Jacksonville College I believe, or perhaps he is planning a retreat, for May Jenkins said he would not listen to a call in Philadelphia but had not said he would not listen to one from Pine St. And beggars will be here I presume from Williamstown - where will ___ Amherst squeeze in its cry for help?
I go to Charlestown this afternoon, and to Newburyport with my father Monday, should the weather be pleasant, to stay two or three days, but now it seems as if another storm was coming. Have I told you that Cousin Albert has buried another child, he has but one living now.
You will make the best of the blots, blunders etc of this letter for I am in great haste to go out.
Yrs affectionately D.W.V. Fiske
October 23rd or 24th
I entirely forgot to take care of my spoons till after I had got into the Stage, but I shall not worry myself about them, or Sarah either; I guess the spoons are in the upper drawer among the best towels, next to the window; and I guess Sarah will be very willing to come back.
If you see Mary Shepard give my love to her and tell her I called upon her aunts yesterday, they were comfortably well, and had received a letter from George saying that his health is much improved.
Be sure to write so that I shall hear Wednesday or Thursday, or I shall manufacture Ann's cold into a real fever. Give my love to Ann, and tell her Ma is resting every day and feels a great deal better for resting, but wants to se her very much.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Newburyport, Mas, Oct 26
[Oct 1841] Monday afternoon.
My dear husband,
The post mark has told the tale, or I should say, guess where I am; and it seems a wondrous affair to be anywhere but at Charlestown, Weston or Boston, - this is the first time I have ventured off so far since we were married thirteen years ago. We came to Newburyport this forenoon, on our way we happened to fall in with Capt Trask; he is intending to go to Amherst Wednesday, with Mrs. Trask, to see their only son who entered College last Commencement. I should have invited him to take tea with me had I known he was there. I spent some time with his mother at Mrs. Davis's three or four years ago, and became so well acquainted, she had reason to expect some attentions for her son. Mrs. Trask is a fine woman. I hope you will call upon them; of Capt. Trask I know nothing, only that he has treated me very politely, and is one of the largest men I ever saw. I suppose they will be at Mr. Buckwood's Wednesday evening. I did not tell Mr. Trask that I did not know his son was in College so you need not take pains to tell him.
You will get a letter from me to-night I presume, and Thursday I shall hope to find letters from you and Helen at Boston; we shall go back Thursday certainly, probably Wednesday. I am calculating much upon seeing Miss Grant (Mrs. Bannister).
Elisabeth (Mrs. Jones) sends her respects to you. I objected to respects to which she replied "Oh well, love by all means, if it will do." I assured her you would like love as well again. Good night for I am writing upon a book by the fire in the midst of talking.
Yrs. aff. D.W.V. Fiske
My dear Helen,
Lest something should prevent me from writing you the latter part of the week, I will just say continue to be a good girl, in your papa's letter. You have just received I presume a very long letter from me. I wrote one to you last week, and shall hope to find one from you Thursday at Boston. I came to Newburyport in the Cars with Grandpapa, and am visiting Cousin Eunice and Mrs. Jones (Aunt Hook's sister) - the family are all * very kind and hospitable. I used to see them very often at Uncle Vinal's, and it is very pleasant to see them again.
*old Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. Anthony Jones, and a Miss Stickney, Mrs. Jones's sister.
Whenever you see our dear little Ann give her three kisses for Ma. Don't you think a great deal more about seeing her than you thought you should?
I have not forgotten my promise of a present for you which you are to have, if good.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Boston, MS, Oct 29
[Oct 1841] At the Earl House, Friday afternoon
We have just returned from Newbury-port & my father has just brought me a letter from you and one from Helen; I sit right down to write that you need not be disappointed as to a letter tomorrow night. As to poor Charley I do feel indignant, how malicious and mean, but you need not be much mortified at the sins of others; the disgrace rests upon, I wish I knew who, but not upon you.
I read a part of your letter to Papa, he said "what scamps, and just as like as not they would serve another horse just so," he thought you had better carry her off to board or make some bargain with Frink, he thinks you could not sell her for much now; it is a perplexing affair and I can't see exactly what you can do; as to keeping it private, I should not try for it will be impossible, and if a thing must come out, my way is to take it myself so that nobody can crow over finding it out, or pity me for not being able to keep it secret. But Papa and I will say nothing in this region.
I am as sick as you are of your connection with Amherst College, and much as I like my nieghbours and friends in Amherst I'd leave there tomorrow for any place in which you could have a peaceable living, and try very hard to live upon less than we do there. You work very hard, and get no thanks, nothing but your daily bread and insults - advertise for a parish in the Spring. I find from going the rounds that ministers stick together almost anything for sermons. Mr. Crosby is the best preacher anywhere about here. At Bowdoin St. I do not think they preach the truth, or if they do, it is in such a way as to quiet the impenitent or set them to converting themselves.
I have had a very pleasant visit at Newburyport. All Mrs. Jones's family requested a particular remembrance to you, and said they should be very happy to see you there.
I am going out to Cousin Albert's to-night to stay till tomorrow night or perhaps till Monday; next week to Woburn to pass one or two nights not but one I think, then to Weston. My intention is to get home one week before Thanksgiving; sooner if there is any special reason why I should come, if the children are becoming burdensome I will hasten my return, but if they are not I can accomplish the remaining visits more comfortably to have rather more than six weeks. The perpetual storms have delayed me very much in visits to old friends and cousins.
Write very soon and direct to Boston just as you have done. Don't let this affair worry you, but if you should catch the mean creature that sheared Charley hold him till I come. As to the money you were intending to pay Papa he says "tell Mr. Fiske he needn't think anything about that, but do just what he thinks best about the horse only I guess he better wait till I come up, perhaps one horse will do for us both*; the Buggy has gone to Amherst or is going. I heard Papa telling some man about it. I have never seen so much of my father in a short time as during this visit. Last sabbath he came over to Charlestown, and went to Church with Uncle Vinal's family. Aunt & Martha seem rejoiced that he come there and Uncle is just as pleasant towards him as ever.
*then he added, "but it don't make much difference what is done, he will have to give the horse away to anybody, unless it is to some old farmer."
Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked Boston, MS, Nov. 1
[Nov. 1841] Charlestown, Thursday morning.
My dear husband,
My father brought me your letter last evening, and I meditated upon it two or three hours in the night, and this I mention to secure proper attention and respect for the result of my midnight thoughts. I have decided that it will not be best to change my plans as you may anticipate or dread, (Just which you please) seeing me at home week after next, Wednesday or Thursday.
So late in the season I think it would not be well to take the children such a jaunt; it would be attended with more trouble and exposure than the gratification would be worth.
Getting home again will be treat enough for the present. Helen said in one of her letters that she was looking forward to it with so much pleasure she should hardly wish to go even to Boston. And it would be a great care to me to be with them both at Weston, and make a great deal of work for Maria.
Aunt Vinal wishes to have Helen come next spring and spend several weeks with her and I shall be glad to have her if it seems as if it would do to trust her for I wish to have her become acquainted with her aunts and cousins.
It distresses me to think of poor Charley; it is a hard reward for drawing about those old wagons so many years, to be shamefully sheared. Mr. Snell is undoubtedly right as to the cause of the insult, and he has proven himself a real friend in telling you the honest truth, and he might if he would tell you remarks which have been made, which with your good opinion of the wagon, you would hardly believe. I don't believe there is another piece of furniture in the village that has been wondered at, and talked about, more than that old wagon - enough has reached my ears, and it is always but a small part of the whole that is reported to the parties concerned. You have called it all pride in me, but if it is, it is what Marm Lewis used to call "dacent pride," so I don't hesitate to confess that I don't think that wagon respectable for my ladyship or your lordship to ride in and I think, till we can afford a better, you had better have none; if it is fixed up, you can sell it to somebody, or Sewall can perhaps, but if you keep it, you may expect to have more shearing, or to find the wagon some morning all sawed in pieces ready for oven wood.*
*You will always have the credit of catching the rogues and sending them off, and therefore you are always exposed to things of this kind, and I should not be surprised in any letter to hear of something else and I think you had better keep the barn locked, and a light burning in the nursery fire place. Our trees were girdled when there was no light.
You have always disliked the trouble of a horse and the little that we ride would not cost half as much as to keep one, and beside if our salary is to be diminished we have got to economise somewhere, and the barn is a good place to begin. To the mill, the stores and off to preach is nearly all our riding.
Won't you enquire about Sylvia and engage her to return if she will come. I ride over to Boston this morning with Uncle to take the Lowell Stage for Woburn this afternoon. I will read what you have written about a horse to Papa and tell you what he says.
Aunt Vinal send love to you and says she is sitting by with one of her bad headaches coming on, the first she has had for a long while. Aunt is a model of patience and of hospitality too, it is just like going home to a father's house, she is so kind & Uncle also.
Papa has just been in and I've read him a part of your letter. He says "tell Mr. Fiske not to do anything about a horse till he sees me or hears from me, horses are cheaper here and perhaps I can get one, and go up to Amherst with it in my Buggy, if you can go home alone (I said "of course I can"). Charley always was a miserable looking animal, she has a bad gait." So I think you need not feel troubled about having the horse replaced, and try to bear all your troubles as well as you can, there are thousands more unfortunate than you.
At the Earl House, 12 o'clock
Another reason why I think it best not to prolong my visit, my father seems to be waiting to return to Amherst. He said a week or two ago perhaps he had better go up without me, and make some arrangement for his horse and come back, but if he should do that he might not feel like going back to spend the winter and I wish so much to have him with me, I would not on any account defer opening the house, and I am so well rested, and brightened up I really anticipate returning home and taking my place at the head of things. My love to the children. I wrote to Helen yesterday. Love to Mrs. Moore. Write very soon.
Addressed: Prof. Nathan W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass
Return address: Weston, Ms, Nov 9th
[Nov 1841] Weston, Monday Morning
My dear husband,
Before a grand fire, with pussy purring away upon one side, and your father upon the other warming his hands, I have seated myself to report to you the important information that I wish you were here two. I came out in the Mail Stage this morning, and arrived just in season to take breakfast with Maria. I really anticipate a very pleasant visit and wish a thousand things had not hindered me from coming out before, but in the few days I stay, I shall see Maria more, than I have seemed to see anybody else in the whirl of a City.
Maria is very well, and as cheerful and active as ever. Your father seems as well as he did when I was at Weston last, and looks no older; although it is a real snow storm, he is going to the middle of the town to vote this afternoon. I've just asked him if he is a Whig, he says "Yes, indeed, to be sure I be," with as much earnestness as if I had asked him if he was an honest man. Sewall is full of business making cider. Martha's health is much better. Mary is at Lowell learning a trade.
Last Thursday afternoon I went out to Woburn, had a very pleasant visit, returned Saturday morning to Boston; - in the afternoon went over to Charlestown. A Methodist preached for Mr. Crosby - a handsome, young, very popular preacher and a fine speaker, but such a sermon! It was like spinning a thousand skeins of yarn from a pound of wool. In the afternoon heard Mr. Crosby; my father came over and attended church and staid for tea.
I do hope my father will succeed in finding a horse for you, he seems interested about it, and when I suggested sending it to Weston instead of taking it up himself, it seemed to strike him favourably. I've told no living creature about poor Charley but my father and Maria, as she is coming to Weston. I thought you could not care, Maria will say nothing.
Your father says you must come and spend one more Thanksgiving with him, I think from his manner he depends upon it. I told him I was going home in season for you to get away. He says "tell Nathan if he can't leave till Tuesday afternoon, he can get here in season."
Ask the Judge to save a Turkey for me. A fat, but not a very large one. I invite you and your children to dine with me. I wonder if the children wish to see me half as much as I wish to see them. Give my love to them and tell Ann Ma hopes to be at home next week. Have the little books I've sent reached & pleased Ann?
My love to Mrs. Moore and tell her I called upon her nieces Saturday and saw them both, they were well and intend to write to her by me.
Tell Mr. Parker and Joseph that I shall bring them some money, each 20 dollars I believe.
This snow storm makes me feel that it is about time to be in winter quarters. Papa is getting us one of these air-tight stoves which are said to save a deal of wood and keep rooms very warm. Should you be willing to have Papa enlarge our barn yard? I think he would like to do it.
Your father says again "You give my love to Nathan and tell him he must come down to Thanksgiving." Maria says "la, it will be quite handy to have the horse so I can have some rides. I can make him do, either go without a --- or tie on one.
I am waiting for a letter from you, as indeed I always am excepting when there is one in my hand. If you have sent one, Papa will send it to me Wednesday morning, and do tell me some Amherst news. It seems as if everything must have happened in such a long while.
Yr. affectionate wife D.W.V. Fiske
"Yes, not a bit more than three quarters you say," well, be thankful for anything, some poor men haven't any.
I go to Boston Thursday night.
At Uncle Scholfield's
My dear husband
As no Stage came from Weston to Boston yesterday, excepting the mail Stage in the evening Maria and Mrs. Fiske were kind enough to take me to Cambridge port where they do their shopping, in the covered wagon. From there I took an Omnibuss and reached Uncle Gideon's about 3 o'clock. Aunt Vinal had invited Dr. and Mrs. Sharp and some other friends. I was very glad I fulfilled my engagement with her for Uncle Vinal had not returned from Bath and several ladies were engaged and it was better to have such a little woman as I am present than nobody.
This morning just as the seventh or eighth time since my stay in Boston was commencing I ran up to Uncle Scholfield's to meet Aunt Vinal in accordance with an engagement made before going to Weston to spend to-day with her there; so we are all together in the library excepting 9 a little upon one side in Uncle's chambers for the sake of writing this letter to you.
I have received your letter written Sunday evening and one from Helen to-day. Papa has called upon me this forenoon, he has been making enquiries about horses but has found none yet. He says it is rather too late - they are sent off into the country. One or two that might have answered were sold at auction just before your necessity. You may expect us next week, the weather may possibly delay us till Friday, but rain or shine I shall be for coming that day, so as to get all together and ready for Thanksgiving. You will see that there are some crackers in the house and some butter to begin with. As to Sylvia, if she will come good naturedly, perhaps we had better take her as winter is coming and she is tough and can do our washing, but if she won't, let us try Sarah's sister, for who knows but she is just what I want? And if they would do well together, it would please me greatly. I enjoy such help best, taking care of them creates an interest which I cannot XXXX XX feel in these transient bodies. Notwithstanding Sarah's faults she has been more of a comfort to me in one way and another than any other help I ever employed; I have always thought too that she was attached to us.
Helen wrote that she had been unwell, so as to have some medicine of a Dr. Stacy, and keep her bed a day or two (I believe it was last week) but I hope you will go and see her, or send her the next page enclosed in one from yourself in the next mail after you receive this.
Helen expresses a great deal of gratitude to all the family for their kindness. I hope it has been of service to her to be with them.
I wrote you a letter at Weston which I suppose reached you Wednesday night.
Helen Hunt Jackson
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