Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-9 transcription
Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 9, Letters from Nathan Fiske (HHJ's father) to Deborah Fiske (HHJ's mother), 1829
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq., Boston.
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec 5
 Thursd. Evening, 1/2 past 8.
My dearest Friend,
Br. Washburn has just left the Cottage where we have enjoyed a fine hour, in your room, which holds now the rocking chair & the table with the green cloth, & my apparatus for Studying & Drawing. The table is by the bed, & we have been sitting with the basket of apples between us, & talking of a hundred matters. Among them the joys of the bachelor state received a respectful notion, but be informed it was unanimously agreed that they have given place to far greater. We talked also of the Dedication wh. took place to day, a very interesting occasion indeed, Mr. Colman of Belchertown, Dr. Humphrey, & Mr. Perkins assisted. Mr. Washburn's sermon was the best, by odds, that he has ever given in my hearing. The house & pulpit appear in good style, simple & neat.
You wish me to tell you minutely my course of life. To begin first with the first things, I rise from our bed at 5 O'clock, kindle a grand fire in the stove, attend to some little cleanings & emptyings, wash, attend to devotions, & generally do a little at studying or writing before College prayers. Then comes my walk to College, recitation, & breakfast at Mrs. Moore's. Then follows, necessary business in village if there be any, & study until 11 O'clock, then recitation, dinner, then study, more or less as may happen until evening prayers & tea, - then lectures, Faculty meetings, or calls, then sometimes study, or reading, devotions, & various preparations for retiring wh. takes place at 10 O'clock.
When we get into an house, let us keep up this system. - This by the way, brings me to the main business of this letter. You remember I never expressed any definite ideas as to plans of life for the coming winter; because I had not fully determined what it was best to propose to you. I am now determined, & I do hope you & your Father will perfectly agree with me. The plan is that your Father return to A. with you before the 1st of Jan. when I take possession of our house, & that we go about the repairs immediately, finish them during the vacation, & then move as gradually as we please, & when we please.
There are many reasons for this. First, all the reasons which you have, for making your visit at B. one of only three weeks or a month. Second, I shall be wholly at liberty to join with your Father in attending to the repairs, wh. will not be the case if we delay them to Spring, because then they must go on in term time. Third, if they are completed, in his vacation -, my mind will be much more free to attend to study etc. next term. Fourth, it will secure us from danger of being crowded & hurried about moving, wh. in all probability will be the case if we defer 'till Spring, the repairs. Fifth, it will be the easiest way of getting the present occupant out of the house, if we commence the repairs. Sixth, Mr. Flegg, Mr. Sweetsen, Esq. Boltwood, & Mr. Washburn all think, the repairs will be made cheaper now than in Spring because the carpenters are now out of employment & that, at any rate, cheaper or not, it will be best to do now. Painting also is much better, when done in winter; a paint adheres much better.
Why need I multiply reasons?
I am very desirous that the plan may be adopted. Will you not agree to it, & endeavor to persuade your Father. You know I do not wish to commence the repairs without his presence & direction. I have the deed, & shall as soon as possible buy the piece we proposed of Dr. Lellon, altho he demands an enormous price. I cannot help saying again, that I am very desirous that the plan I have proposed should be taken. Do you not like it?
You will receive this Sat. Evening; let me hear from you immediately, write Sabbath evening, & tell me how it strikes.
I am nearly at the bottom & have many things of no consequence wh. I might say. Your letter came on Monday. I dined to day with Madam Shepard, Mr. & Mrs. Moore, a host of others send love to you, (you are missed more than some other Professors' wives) & I send mine to you, & all under the roof of 39 H. St. - & what a letter for & from N.W.F.
Love to Mr. and Mrs. Mason. Call
P.S. As to the Cottage being lonely, it is the place of N.B. all in a. least lonely to me. So give yourself no uneasiness about me, but follow Dr. W's orders, & be well quick, & come back acc. to my plan. For the hour of prayer 6 O'clock in mornings wd be best for me but not for you. Take 2 O'clock p.m.
Addressed: Mr. D.W.V. Fiske Care of Otis Vinal, Esq., Boston
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec. 6
Amherst, Sab. Evening
Dec. 6th, 1829
My Dear Wife,
I trust you have received my last & are now answering it. Here I sit by a charming fire in your nursery, in the rocking chair, with the parlor table a green cloth covered with confusion as usual, wishing for only two things, first that the fetters & bonds of any sin were broken, & secondly that you were at my side. I do not doubt that this separation will, if we are permitted again to meet, strengthen our union. Perhaps we are both sensible that our connexion has been the means of increasing our comfort; it certainly has been so to me; but I feel that all that is included under that term is but the smallest portion of the addition which marriage has made to my happiness. To have a companion, an equal, whom you love & by whom you are loved, who is one with yourself in every dear interest for time & eternity; this is the peculiarity of the blessedness. Of the comforts we may be stripped in a great measure, but the other, where it truly exists, is inseparable from its possessors. - My heart & conscience assent to all the possitions & sentiments of your lost, respecting our ingratitude to God, our abuse of his goodness, & our backwardness to improve under his chastisement; my own particularly; my deadness in religion you saw & felt, but the unholiness of any soul you have never conceived, & never will, unless it is disclosed to you in the judgment by my richly deserved destruction with the wretched company of hypocrites & unbelievers. My dear Wife, I thank you for those prayers in my behalf, let them ascend, & may they be heard. The corruptions of my heart are such as I never dreamed of discovering, & such as may not be told even to you. It is perfectly astonishing to me that God has so ordered the restraints of his Providence, that I have been preserved since my profession of religion from gross open crime. Honest & fair as I may seem to you & my friends, O where would be my soul without an infinite atonement in the blood of Christ?
I have thought more of the Loss of my child since I returned than ever except the first days after his death. You know what fond hopes I had, he would have been an idol; God in mercy took him: but my heart, oh! it turns to other idols. But should not the thought of little David help us to resist temptation? How much has he already learnt of God, & Christ, & redemption? and, what think you, perhaps he knows his parents, & is a little ministering spirit for them? If he were with us, in the body, should we not fear to sin in his presence, & shall we not fear to sin when we think of him as a pure spirit sent from God on errands of mercy?
The lines I had thought of for his stone, will come very well after the text you name, or before it.
"He for a moment felt the rod,
Then shining on the viewless air,
Freed his light wings, & soared to God." _____XX
When you write next, I wish you to be more particular in telling me about yr health, & symptoms, & let me urge you to keep your resolutions about exposure to the evening air, or to dampness.X The cold I took on our ride is I believe entirely gone.X As to boarding, it is just as when we were at Mrs. M's, every thing just so neat, & just so economical. I apprehend nothing dreadful, yet you remember the everlasting pork; This has come on, & I fear if you do not come back, as I proposed in my last, by or before the 1st of Jan. I shall be rapidly changing to a pig under the influence of more than one cause.X Mary is at Dr. H's.X As to how I proceed (I have been answering the questions of yr letter) I told you fully in my last. I receive many sympathetic condolences on my loneliness in the Orea cottage, but give yourself no uneasiness; I am perfectly comfortable in every respect excepting the pleasure of your society. The cake & apples & cider are gradually disappearing. The apple-sauce appears to keep well, & I should like a piece of brown bread to use it with, rather better than the plumb cake.
I trust I shall not be disappointed as to a letter from you tomorrow evening. Do not wait for answers, but write as often as you can. Yours affectionately & gratefully,
My love to all the family; tell yr. Aunt to make no deductions from her pleasure in your visit on my account.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston, Postmarked Worcester, Nov 23
Return Address: Single
 Frid. Evening 1/2 past 10.
My Dear Wife,
I have given the Lecture, packed my maps, & clothes, washed my hands, put my bowl of milk to warm, by the fire, & "taken my pen in hand", & in a few minutes shall throw my weary limbs upon the bed. My cold broke up yesterday, & I began my talk at 7
O clock with a good voice, but am rather on the mum-sort now.
I cannot express how much I am obliged to you for the note by the driver; it only wanted a Postscript adding, "arrived safe at 39. H- St," to make it perfectly meet my wishes.
I believe I said not a word to you about writing to me, & in 10 minutes after I left you, I was in a kind of agony to think how I had parted with you, & thrown you upon the "tender mercies" of an unknown Stage driver. Then all the dismal forebodings of Monday afternoon washed upon me, & again I wished we were all back in the Cottage. But I felt that I deserved to be deprived of you, as well as my child, & saw anew all the unholiness of my motives in many of the most solemn acts of my life.
The dampers on my wild scheme of Lecturing XXX added to my gloominess, & I was not very well prepared to keep a joyful thanksgiving unto the Lord.
I called on the Rev. Mr. Going of the Bass Church. He took hold of my plan, in earnest, & has helped me thro the [Hough], where I must otherwise have stuck to my own mortification, & perhaps the disgrace of the College. I lectured, gratuitously, before the Lyceum, & Mr. G. professes to gather up something from those who attended to pay my costs; it was a goodly number, quite attentive.
I heard Mr. John Abbot yesterday, & dined with him, his Br. Gorham, Mr. Hoadley & wife, a female inmate of his family, & a young Dr. Butler, at Mr. Waldo's whose household is himself, & three maiden sisters. I cut an awkward closet; had you been with me, I should have been kept straight.
Thank you for the reflections of yr note & hope my feelings & thoughts may be turned more fully & permanently in the channel in wh. yours are flowing. Your prayers will be an indispensable requisite in weaning me from idols.
I am too weary to write longer. I shall look for a letter here tomorrow morning, or at Amherst in the evening. I sent a Cat. & a pencil sentence yesterday, to secure this.
Yours, more sensible than
ever of your value & importance
to his happiness.
P.S. It seems that we passed Mr. Abbott on Tuesday on his way to Am. & yesterday I missed him on his way to Boston. He called when I was out. Give my love to him & Mrs. A. Tell him I was intending to be at Thomas's when the Stage came in from A. in order to see him, but was called out a 2 O'clock.
My love to all your Uncle's family & respects to all friends etc.
Sat morning 1/2 8. All well.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, At Mr. Worthington's, Worcester, Politeness of Mr. Boltwood
Return Address: No. 39 Hancock Street.
 Amherst, Sabbath Evening
My dear Wife,
What a miserable wretch have you for a husband, ever making himself & those he most loves, unhappy. I have never doubted that you wished to return, wished to see me, that you loved me unspeakably beyond my deserts. I did not mean to blame you for not returning, & that frigid "very well" wh. I very well remember in my last letter & for wh. I now sincerely ask your pardon, you will see by looking, only respects a condition, "if etc." & the opinions & feelings about which you inquire also respected the same condition or supposition. I have been almost in agony that my letters should have produced the resolution you have mentioned, & I am utterly at a loss what to do. If I hasten to meet you, as I have repeatedly nearly resolved, then no preparation can be made for your reception here. It seems best to commit the result to God, who alone can preserve for me the inestimable blessings of wh. & every other I deserve to be instantly stripped. O, if I had felt in this affair as I ought that the will of God had been manifested, I should have shared your sufferings & my own & all the unknown consequences. I do pray, my dear wife, that the punish.t of my sins may fall on myself & not on those connected with me. It is distressing enough to my heart to think how much our little David suffered for his father's guilt, & it is insupportable if his mother must have a portion too on my account.
I hope, but I cannot trust to my resolutions, that if God does bring again in safety to my arms, that I shall be grateful. I have been very unhappy ever since the letter wh. informed me you could not come at the expected time, & it appears strange to you, since before that I professed to be so contented.
My last letter has in part explained it. I took pains to know what I could depend on as to yr. Father's coming, intending to see you instantly, if he could not come by the 1st of Jan. I was desirous that yr F. should come if he wants, but had I been told that it was uncertain, I should have visited B. with great pleasure, altho I thought it not best otherwise. But I understood your letter to say the thing was settled. I instantly made arrangements accordingly. Mary was to come home, XXX XXXXXXX XXX XXX XXXXXX, Mrs. Holbrook was told to leave the house, the carpenter was spoken to to be ready for work, & like a child expecting a present, I told all our friends when & how you were coming. I received many congratulations. Was it strange that the letter wh. spoke of settling the business of the year gave a shock to my feelings? And if, when in the next letter another reason so perfectly (to say the least, unexpected as the one given, was mentioned for with further delay, my feelings had not been moved, would it not have seemed to you that I cared very little about seeing you, unless the baggage came with you? Had your XXXXX letter stated that unexpected business of real importance, (as your last does) would detain yr. Father. I should have been pained, but not fretted, & I am sure I should not have been guilty of paining you. I have not said all this to justify myself; my feelings have been wrong in the sight of God; I forgot or refused to look at & acquiesce in his will, & this was sin & I deplore it. But I wish to satisfy you, that my impatience was not because your Father XXX did not "move just as, & the minute when, I wished." Your Father is to me as my Father, he has ever treated me with the kindness of a Father, & I desire to be grateful for the comforts he furnishes you & me, wh. will be utterly beyond my power. Except for yr sake, I have not wished him to do any thing. But this I do wish, that when he or you may induce me to form my plans, in little or great things, on his promises, or designs, I may not be thrown into the XXXXXX attitude in wh. a change in his mind places me.
These two half sheets I am calculating to send by Mr. Kidder; they will find you at Worcester. Mr. K. will, (by my request) render you any services you may wish. You will have a storm, I fear, & I fear for yr health. Be very, very careful, get Mr. K. or Mr. W. to bespeak the attention of some passenger in the stage. I feel ashamed at myself, & exceedingly apprehensive for you, but I believe it best to get the Cottage as well prepared for you as I can, & pray that no accident may befal you on the way. If the stage is late, or any thing whatever creates any exposure, do, I beg of you, stop, & send me word. X X X
Mr. Kidder will not take this. So you must, if you get it, or if you get it not, depend on Mr. Worthington. I hope you have written this evening a letter to reach me tomorrow night.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec 8
Monday Ev. Dec. 7, 1829
My Dear Wife,
You asked me if there was any thing wh. you could do for me in Boston. There are two things. First, to obtain by Mr. Green of the Missionary Rooms, a complete set of the "Missionary Papers" - I mean the Papers published in England, I think, by the Church Missionary Society. They are Papers, published I believe monthly, containing an engraving representing some pagan god, or temple, or superstitious custom, or the like, & in the form of a tract. If they cannot be now obtained, request Mr. Green, if it can be done, to procure a set for me, by importing them, or otherwise. Tell him I have a scheme of promoting the Missionary cause by them.
Second, to ascertain from the same person (remember he is the husband of your bridemaid) whether there is in the Rooms, or in Boston, accessible a map of Ceylon, & an account of the island that is full & particular; & if there is, I wish you to get it, if possible, & copy the map, (you can trace it, & mark the places of towns in by figures, & write the names to wh. the figures correspond on another paper if that is easier, & there need be no special attention to elegance, as I only wish a guide by wh. to draw on cloth) - & then to condense from the work treatise or whatever it is, all that you think valuable & interesting for a Lecture on that island. I wish to prepare one for the 1st monthly concert next term, on the plan of my historical lectures, but made to bear on the missionary cause.
I think one very interesting lecture may be made. The geography, antiquities, curious animals, trees, or plants, - the history, dress & customs of people etc. etc. will all be pertinent. If you find any drawings of things belonging to the subject, can you get Cousin Ann to enlarge them? You know about what size my drawings are. By the way, give my love to Ann, & the family, & all the families of Pinckney St. & every other street where I am remembered. Have you seen Mrs. Mason?
Hark! Yes, that is it, the Stage-horn, & now there is a letter for me. I shall just as soon as may be take this to the P.O. & if I am disappointed, you know well enough how I shall look (I showed me Saturday night), but I shall also give you a vehement scolding. - I wish to say a word to your Father, & perhaps I can do it here just as well as to take another sheet, if you will read it to him.
Dr. Lellon asks the enormous price XXX of $600 per acre for the land north of our house, & I therefore think it inexpedient to purchase any, except a few feet on which to place the wood-house; let the barn remain where it is, & run a fence a few feet from the house the length of the house on the north side, leaving the part beyond the house without a fence, the woodhouse & barn lying nearly on the boundary line. The expense of getting the land prepared moving the barn, & filling up the hollow will cost more than $100, & I think it will be better to save this, & employ it in repairing the house, or purchasing the lot on the south. But I still will purchase the portion of the Dr. wh. we thought of, if you & your Father think it best. //Stop here. You will allow me to mention, however, that the original piece of the house comes up exactly to the amount of my property, even including the hinterland stock, wh. there is some reason to fear will become good for nothing.
All things as usual. Mary says she is well & is ready to come & live in the Cottage again.
As it is outrageously muddy, I shall put my scoldings in pencil, if there is no letter.
[tr. note: remainder is in pencil]
O,O,O, What do you mean, remember - N.W.F.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq. (No 39. Hancock St) Boston, Politeness of Hon. L.F. Dickenson
 Wednesday Evening, Dec. 9th
My Dear Mrs. F.
I cannot imagine why you have not written since last Tuesday, unless it be sickness. In common cases I interpret silence as no unfavorable omen; but in one who thinks so much as you do of the value of a letter received, I am apt to view it differently. If you had the idea before our separation that it would be a matter of indifference to me, whether I XXXX should hear from you or not, I think I have given you some reason to suppose since that such is not the fact. Perhaps you mean to bring me to a little humiliation in requesting, with more formality than I have done, "a correspondence." But it is not like you. I will not say any thing further about the feelings with which I paced my way in the dark to the Cottage on Monday & Tuesday nights after having been in vain to Post Office, only to add that the Cottage then seemed indeed lonely. - If I do not hear to night I shall be anxious, & request Esq. Dickenson, who will take this letter to Boston, to call at your Uncle's. -- I have accomplished very little by way of study, altho freed from family cares. My thoughts have been much occupied about the house, & its repairs & improvements, & I have been not a little vexed at the exorbitant demands of Dr. L. as I wished very much to get a few rods of his land. -- but I feel greatly reproved, & inexcusably guilty, when I consider how much longer my thoughts will naturally dwell on plans for temporal comfort, than on the subject of an eternal home, the mansions in the house not built with hands.
I am sitting in Mrs. M.'s room, writing on her candlestand, while she is knitting by my side, & sends love to you.
I shall in a few minute hie to the Faculty meetings. & after it is over, finish this scroll, letting you know whether I get a letter or not.
In mean time, goodbye, N.W.F.
The stage has arrived, & there is no letter. What can this mean? I shall request Mr. Dickenson to call tomorrow evening.
Do not leave me in the suspense & anxiety of this state. Let a line be sent to the P. Office tomorrow before nine O'clock.
[tr. note: rest of this page is a drawing of a house plan, as it would set upon a lot]
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston, Politeness of Mr. C. Adams.
 Thursday Evening, Dec. 10th
My Dear Wife,
It was light tripping up to the Cottage tonight with the burden of yr letter in my hand, & now that I have read it, & call to mind all the dolorous complaints I have made, it seems like "much ado about nothing." It is quite a joke upon me, the affair of the Hartford Catalogue, after I was so vexed at your dullness in not apprehending mine. But this thing, it has made me determine that I for one, will not again be very forward to promote a scheme to put the space of one hundred miles between me & my wife. And "this brings me to" yr question about coming to Boston. I thought if yr Father wd return with yu by the 1st of Jan. I should not; as I could not stop long, & it is desirable to save the expence ($10), especially as the journey to Worcester cost above $30. without bringing me any of "the chickens" that I counted before hand. But if your Father cannot come, I shall be at 39 "pretty considerably" soon after the term closes. So, you must let me know with certainty some time next week.
I shall be greatly disappointed if your Father does not come. I cannot think of so much delay & indecision about the repairs, as we have indulged about getting a house.
In relation to the paper, the very thing you mentioned came in to my mind to-day; it is best by all means. You will want paper for at least four rooms, the parlour, sitting room, & two front chambers. The other rooms may be stained. The paper for the parlor & sitting room I think will be best alike, as we shall furnish them nearly alike & use them perhaps both at once, sometimes for company. I have drawn a plan for the alterations, & have a spot for every body, & every thing, without building any addition.
I want to have yr Father here to have the thing go on to his mind, & also done as it ought to be, but if he cannot come, we must do the best we can. The Pres.t thinks it best by all means to go right on as soon as the vacation begins, & finish as quick as possible. I am fully decided about it. I am satisfied it will be necessary in order to get Mrs. H. out, & that must be done.
I cannot make out much of a letter this time, I am very tired & sleepy & will bid you good night, only adding that as to Brown you may do what you prefer, (I have a little liking for the fellow after all), & as to the Sab. School my sincere wish is that you would deny yourself.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal, Esq, Boston
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec 15
 Monday Evening, Dec. 14th
One would think we were at a furious courtship, or a matrimonial controversy with the pen, such a brisk interchange is there of letters between us. The simple truth of the matter, on my side, is that my thoughts & feelings are about you a great deal more than you expected, to say nothing as to what I expected. But I would not trouble you with breaking the seal this time, were it not to tell you that yours written on the arrival of Mr. D. has reached me, - & that I do not wish you to be stooping over a dusty budget of Recorders.
If Mr. Green cannot furnish with some history of Ceylon, geographical account, or something of the kind, with a Map, all the rest that you can do, with vast labor, will be of little use. If I had thought of your seeing Br. Shedd, I should have told you to ask him to hunt up the very things in the Atheneum, & contrive some hook or crook to get it into your hands for a few days. The map is the main thing. The rest can be done here. But I have no sort of a map of Ceylon.
In a letter by Mr. Adams wh. you have ere this received, I have said all I need, I believe as to the house, the repairs, & your return. Only let me add, if your Father cannot come with you, as soon as the 1st of Jan. at least, let me know it, this week. I shall wait very impatiently from the close of our term. (one week from next Wednesday) to the 1st of January, but if he can come with you as soon as that, I think it better than that I should come to Boston. - but I will not wait any longer. So if you do not wish to be "come for," you must get started; & the sooner, the better, if your physician approves it, otherwise, not. Remember, I beseech you, that much as I wish to meet you, & to meet you here, I deliberately choose that house & books should be consumed rather than suffer the dread consequences of your being exposed.
Did you have a furious storm on Saturday? It was tremendous here, just at tea time. I set out for Mrs. Moore's, but was driven back. I thought I would not go to bed supperless, but try my skill in making a cup of tea. So I hunted for tea-kettle, tea-pot, tea-spoon, cup & saucer, sugar bowl, plates, & tea, (I wanted genuine Hysom, but found only Black) - & after a considerable preparation, during wh. the only adverse occurrence was the upsetting of the tea-pot just as the tea was drawing, as you term it, I sat down to a very comfortable supper of roast potatoes, roast salt-fish, butter, apple-sauce, cake & cheese, with a really excellent cup of tea. The whole thing would have gone off very satisfactorily, had it not been for the dull after-piece, the washing of the dishes. Then I began to think verily that it was not fit that I should be thus serving tables.
All are well, excepting Mary Shepard, who is sick & melancholy. I must close, or you will not get this tomorrow as I wish to have you.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec 18
Thursday Evening, Dec. 17th, 1829
My Dear Wife,
Your two last letters both reached Amherst last evening, but (in consequence of a late Faculty meeting) I did not receive them till this morning, & so you will probably read this acknowledgement of them not till Saturday afternoon.
Now the first thing I have to say is, that I did not propose to you to return soon after the 1st of January, & I told you in my last, that I would not wait after. The 1st of Jan is just two weeks from tomorrow, & just two weeks from to-night I expect to see you here; that is, if your physician approves it; nothing but Dr. W.'s opinion must keep you, at Boston. To tell the plain truth, I am tired of living without you; not for want of the outward comfort, I do not wish for more of that; but I do wish to lean my head on your bosom, as my friend one with me, when my mind is weary, & my heart sick of College & of itself.
I am glad to learn your Father's decision to come with you. I will ascertain the size of the rooms & send, if possible tomorrow. I have purchased the lot on the south side, perhaps at a rate wh. your Father will think too high, viz. $400.00, but I took Dr. Humphrey's advice. He said, it ought to be obtained for less, but advised me to give that, but all means, if necessary to obtain it. I shall therefore have it unless the heirs refuse to give the proper security.
I think I may also make an arrangement with Dr. Lellon, by exchanging a strip of mine, wh. I do not want for his, that is, a strip on XX our west line, for a piece of his on our north. I have made him an offer; if he does not accept, I shall have nothing more to do with him.
I have no news to tell, & no time to invent matters to fill up the sheet. Perhaps, I might say something about my ragged coat sleeves, they look a hundred times worse than when you left, & something about torn shirts, & rusty andirons, & cob-webs, & the like, but it would neither make you wiser, nor better. - When I write next, my tongue may be loosed. in mean time, accept my love, & remember me to all the family & to your Father.
Truly & devotedly yours
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.Fiske
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 1829
This is to come by Henry. I am thankful that you can talk of the day when you will return, but let us both be prepared for a disappointment. I wrote a long letter for the yesterday's mail wh. you ought to be reading about this time. - In relation to the sitting room, I will here add that Mr. Sweetsen has paper like that now upon it, & think it will be as well not to think of new paper for it at present; at any rate, wait till you have seen the room. I have intended to get the barn moved XXXX XXX XXX as soon as possible, but the weather changes so often that it is doubtful whether it can be done now; yesterday it looked as if it might, to day everything is hard-frozen. I would rather have yr Father decide how it shall be put, but will you say to him, that it seems so desirable to have it moved before the ground freezes too deep, that if I do not hit upon the best plan for barn & woodshed, he must on the whole let it go. I shall decide nothing at all as to the XXX house until you come.
Mary came up to the Cottage yesterday to clean out the pig-pen a little. She wishes you to come back heartily, & says she will try to do every you want her to. Can you think it, she has been Mrs. Humphrey's only help for a fortnight? She spoke like a good girl & did not complain. But it is too much for her, & if you love her, you will come the sooner for that . Phillis went away offended, & added Mary, "girls don't love to live there."
Dr. H. preached an eloquent sermon last sabbath on the dangers of the Indians, & waked up all College, so that the Amherst students are half ready to fight. Harriet Beecher sent the ladies' circular on the subject to Mr. Perk, & that started her husband out of his torpor, & he drove around yesterday to have a meeting, but when it was got together had not a syllable to say on the thing.
Now is it not too bad? If ever I let my beard go, I am caught. Last night was shaving night; I forgot it; this morning no time, & now who has called on me but Mr. Lewis Tappan of N. York?
But what a fine thing to have easy & good manners; a student never had them, a mere student I mean, such as I am; & when & how can I be any thing else, if one vacation is taken up with moving, & another with repairing houses, & another with other matters etc. etc.?
I had the ragged cuffs on too, & they are rather too unprofessional, & the rags have crept round to the upper side, & continually thrust themselves in sight of my own eye.
I have found your cookery ms. & shall put this scroll in among its precious leaves. The cake will last only till Thursday night next week, & requires a little moistening now. The apples will last, & the cheese, & Mrs. Moore's pork also; the latter makes me think of the story of the beans, six days a week, & on Sundays for a rarity.
I have just remembered that to-night is the last Faculty Meting of the term, & I must therefore (as Henry says he shall go tomorrow morning) get on to the next page as soon as possible, & hurry along towards the bottom as fast as can, so as to keep up my character for good long letters, & yet I have nothing to say, nothing at all. Henry will tell you every thing, & will do any thing for you, & you may tell his mother from me, that is my opinion that Henry will XXX make a son she will have no occasion to be ashamed of; that is, if you think it best, & one thing you may do, whether you think it best or not, which is to give my love to Dorcas.
I should be glad to hear you say a little more about Mrs. Mason. - The prayer bell has just been rung, & I shall now leave a little space for any thing wh. your letter, to be received by to night's mail may suggest or demand. --
I have recd your written last evening. It is really pleasant to see something so fresh from your hands. As to the money, I have only a dollar & three quarters, & tried to borrow of the Faculty, (for I skipped out during the meetings & got your letter) & as Henry goes early in the morning, perhaps I cannot procure any in season. I ought not to have taken that you gave me at W. I could have got along without it & now it is spent for something or other. - I understand your letter to say I may expect you Thursday. Mary & I will have a good fire for you, & as good other things as we can make. Do you see that yr Father makes the Stageman bring you to the Cottage, & not drop you in the street.
Do you also get Dr. Warren's particular advice & directions about your diet, exercise, clothes, habits, & every thing belonging to yr health, to guide you after you come home. You will let me hear at least by Saturday.
Yours rather cold (the fire is almost out)
I have bor.d & enclose $10.00 for your use. Let me hear you XXX & from you. N.W.F.
Addressed: Mr. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston
Return Address: Amherst, MS, Dec 26
Amherst, Dec. 25th, 1829
I am writing in my college room, with no fire, but it is very warm, & nothing but my little lantern for a light, & with a pen which will work only backside down.
I am not tired of your letters even when they are indited with the simple object of ascertaining wh. way the doors swing, & you must not be vexed at receiving a letter wh. contains nothing but telling you how they swing. To begin then, there will be some doors which will be XXX hung a new, & can be made to swing wh. way we please, & they can all be hung to swing either way. The two in the parlor swing one to right, other to left, so of Chamber over parlor, in sitting room XXX two now swing to left, but one of them wd swing better to right, in chamber over sitting two to left. The doors in nursery will swing best I think, one to right one to left - Sum - parlor 1, chamber over 1, sitting room 1, nursery 1, that is 4, to right -- To the left there remain 6, - but two of these may be altered to right, if necessary. So you see, if the fastenings are not exactly so & so, the doors can be accommodated to them.
I have begun upon the barn, the weather is very fine, but may before one day is elapsed be all against me.
I am glad we are going to repair, we never could have removed Mrs. Holbrook otherwise & she seems now not inclined to go. I hope she will not make difficulty.
You must write me Sunday evening, or Monday,# a full account of your plan for coming home, & when I expect you. Mary will be at the cottage on Wednesday. -- Remember the block for your feet, & the handkerchief for your mouth particularly, & let yr Father see that the Stage brings you to the cottage.
I must bid you good night, & grope my way thro the mud to the cottage, & the lantern I fear will not hold out long enough, for it, if I stop a moment longer.
Yours more & more impatient to see you
# or Monday also
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Mr. Otis Vinal, Boston
Return address: Amherst, MS, Dec 28
 Amherst, Sat. Evening.
My Dear Wife,
I am in one of those moods in which what I say makes you cry, & I scarcely dare to write a word. Indeed I have just thrown aside one sheet half filled, because I feared it would pain you. But I feel truly pained by your last letter. I was prepared to be disappointed, that is, to hear of your sickness, or of an accident, of any new cause of delay, but I was not prepared for another instance of . Did you not fully understand me in the letter wh. I wished you to tell me what your Father would do?
As to submitting cheerfully, it is out of the question, I shall not be cheerful again till I see you. But I have done something to hasten the time if possible, by writing the enclosed, wh. I wish you to forward to yr Father instantly.
I do hope, you will learn, from seeing the effects of the opposite cause, that it is better to give pain by prompt decided negatives, than by reluctant affirmatives not complied with.
The former is object, & increases mutual confidence. The latter is bitter, & always weakens confidences.
You must persuade (your Aunt must join) yr Father to come by Saturday. I have told every body, that you are coming on Thursday, & I am ashamed to tell the reason you do not.
The house is suffering every minute, I cannot get Mrs. Hut, (such she is literally,) to go out but by setting the carpenters to work.
I am really glad to be at the bottom of the paper, for I feel silent, Yours,
Helen Hunt Jackson
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