Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-1 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 1, Letters
from Helen Fiske Hunt (HHJ) to her sister Ann S. Fiske, 1851-1852
[Nov 27, 1851]
Thanksgiving Morn, Nov 27th / 51
My very dear Annie,
This being a holy day I suppose I have the privilege of at least commencing a letter to one whom I have so long neglected. I cannot tell you how much regret the last that I sent you has caused one for it was written and directed in dash haste that I hardly knew what I had said, indeed I did not even look it over at its completion, but I have trusted to your good will to pardon me and believe that notwithstanding the imperfect execution my intention was truly good. And then that I should so soon break my promise as to omit writing you last week, but Annie I could not; restricted as we are to Friday evenings and Saturday until five o'clock you can easily imagine how speedily the moments pop away particularly when other duties demanding our first attention must not and cannot be neglected. We lost last Friday eve since Mrs. Tyler requested us to meet in the Chapel and listen to playing upon the piano by those young ladies who are taking lessons. Each young lady who is pursueing [sic] music has to play some piece or if unable to do that to run over the scale, then at the middle and close of the term this examination is repeated to note the improvement they may have made. Enough of apologies and the like I will now tell you what I am about.
Friday 5p.m. Time forbidding me to write more yesterday I laid it aside
and in spite of my severe head-ache I am determined to send you something
in the shape of a letter at least. In accordance with your request I have
kept a diary ever since the night that we were together and I wrote in
Ade's album. Referring to it I find that I sent your letter
My dear Annie,
I am sadly disappointed by not receiving a letter from you this week though I know not as I ought to complain since I was so neglectful of you, but your time I know is not so limited as ours is and you can write when you [illegible] while we must wait till Friday afternoon, indeed some of the young ladies are forbidden to keep ink in their room through the week, but I suppose the temptation may be too great. Helen's letter still remains unanswered and if dear Annie I should omit writing next week think it is for some good reason and believe I shall always love to do it when time will permit. You cannot realise [sic] how I love to write you, truly it is next only to the reception of your good letters. Dear Annie I do not think I ever recline my head upon any pillow at night without thinking of the many happy and delightful hours we have spent together, either in you little room at Miss Ann's or in my chamber at No. 37. More particularly do I call to mind at the present time the night you spent with me when we conversed together about a certain friend of ours and toward whom you tried to persuade me to entertain different feelings. Perhaps you do not so often think of it but to me it recurs very often. Do you see him often? of course he has called ere this, and how does he appear? Oh I only wish you could have been at our house the evening previous to my departure for this place. The gentleman in question did not call until quite late, and then remained but a few moments but that short time even, told me more than perhaps hours could have done at any other period. On rising to bid me good-bye he took my hand and though father and mother were present held it for some little time with that firm grasp that I know you can understand from similar experience though yours was in the stillness of a moonlight eve and with no other eye to witness.
I know not why my dear Annie but a strange sensation came over me and I very quickly hurried to my chamber there to think of all that had just transpired. But why have I thus written, forgive me, I ought not so to have spoken of my feelings but I could not help it, and you Annie are the only person to whom I make known my private feelings, here of course there is no one to whom I can speak of such things and you well know how hard it is for me to keep anything to myself. You never mention do you, to Helen or anyone the subject on which we so frequently converse, it would pain me much if I thought for one moment that you did, and I assure you that your feelings which you have from time to time expressed to me are known to no other, and I wish you would tell me all your heart for is it not pleasant to feel that we have may have one in whom we may freely confide. Have you seen your own true friend from Yarmouth? I trust you have for I know your happiness will thereby be much increased. And have you completed the many pieces of embroidery you had commenced when I last saw you? My slippers are very much admired here and quite a number of the young ladies have taken off the pattern and are hurrying to finish them before Christmas, mine advance slowly but I only hope they will please father and then my desire will be fulfilled.
I was highly gratified by knowing your intention to take charge of a class in the Sabbath School this winter, may you enjoy it much, and with Our Heavenly Fathers blessing upon it, may you reap rich rewards from the self-denial you may have to undergo. Truly it is a divine task to be permitted to labor in the vineyard of our Maker and daily to present our charge at the throne of His grace, and that you may never grow weary in well doing is and shall be the sincere prayer of her who loves you most dearly.
I have just been reading anew your last letter, it is so interesting I can almost imagine I am with you for it is written just in your own happy manner of conversing. I cannot help laughing as I picture you promenading the hall and drawing-rooms of a certain Mrs. Carleton's arm in arm with a certain Mr. Banfield, & in fine with a certain Miss Barkes for a constant inspection of all your movements and ready at every moment to pronounce her dislike for such intimacy with the gentlemen.
Has she yet returned our call? But how is Sue [?], give much love to her and ask her to be exceedingly careful of her precious charge for if it is neglected I shall begin to utter my complaints. Poor Susie does she think I have forgotten her? far from it she is very frequently in my mind and if ever time permits it will gratify me to pen her at the smallest a few lines, her name is attached to my list of correspondents and why need she wait for me, ask her if she is not willing to break from all form and send me the first letter. My love to her. Please Annie remember me most affectionately to Helen when you write, and tell her how impatiently I am waiting for an opportunity to write her and acknowledge the reception of her interesting letter. I shall seize the first moment eagerly, and write at least a few words. My love to May [sp?] also, I would love much to hear from her but probably she prefers not to write, do you think I have any reason to think else? We are just as busy as bees and are about preparing gymnasium dresses in which to perform our daily exercises. My kind regards to Mr. Adams, tell him I am exceedingly happy, and am much pleased with this school and family. Mr. and Mrs. Tyler I respect and highly esteem. The school is made up very pleasantly, and I trust I shall make ample progress. Oh Annie I recited for the first time at an examination last Monday, when we had our semi-monthly examination. Congratulate me that I went through without failure, though it was trying to recite before 130 or 40 pupils, and that at the length of the whole building from the teachers, but I have got through, and have now to anticipate another ere long. But I must say good night, remember dear Annie how much I love you, and do think of me in your prayers. Do write soon dear Annie for it is so hard to be disappointed, and tell me all you are engaged in, for what interests you, I know will interest me also. It seems as though my letters must be entirely void of anything pleasant but you know my heart and knowing that I love you now believe ever your true and affectionate friend and sister, Helen. Good night, what would I not give to embrace you and spend this passing hour with you.
[January 10, 1852]
Institute. Jan. 10th /52
You cannot think, my dear Annie, that it is from any waste of love or interest in you that I have so long delayed writing you; far from it. You have been in my mind continually, and I would willingly sacrifice very much for the pleasure of penning a long long letter to one so dear to me, but unable to control my own wishes, it is impossible for me to do so. I can but feel, that if you realized the little time we have to call our own you would forgive my negligence and would write at least a few words to her who is far away from home, and friends. There are many many things to say to you, which have transpired since the reception of your last letter, but Annie I must be content to leave them until we meet, and with the aid of my diary shall hope to recall all. I have done some mending, and writing that must be done, so will only say, though with deep regret, I must love and leave you. Possibly I may write you a letter next week, certainly I shall, if there is any time. Mr. Emerson has been to see me, and Prof. Tyler spent a number of days here. He inquired for yourself and Helen, spoke in the highest terms of both of you. Your good letter lays before me, Annie and it recalls the many curious things in regard to a certain gentleman in Amherst that have happened or at least reported to exist between us, and which are all false. I have almost a mind to lay aside my duties for the sake of telling you all, but no, it will not do, and I am persuaded you would feel happier than if I transgressed. Am glad you are so happy Annie dear, and I earnestly hope you may ever be. Louise and myself are even now counting the weeks ere our return home, and if in due time we meet again with God's blessing upon us, our or certainly my present self-denials and sacrifices will be amply rewarded.
Remember me most affectionately to [illegible], and to Susie. 'Tis tedious I know for me to repeat so often my love for you, but unconsciously my thoughts appear upon the paper, and it is then too late to erase them. Forget me not when you write to dear Helen. I wrote her a short letter not long since, and was almost ashamed to send it, but I did, and am now anticipating an answer, although so undeserved. I must stop to say that Mr. Chapin spoke of you though in no connection with Mr. Sanford. He corresponds with him, and I doubt not, discuss matters and things pretty warmly. Mary [?] Snell [?] had written me. Do you know if she is engaged to Mr. Chapin? Now I am going to break right off, since this is the only way, in which I can ever stop when writing to you, thoughts come so rapidly.
Good-bye. Good-bye- do write immediately- oh it is so long since I have heard from you. Believe that I love & pray for you continually. May I not ask one little thought from you?
With fond affection, your, Helen.
If you have an opportunity please hand the enclosed to Mother, 'tis a question that I forgot to ask in my letter last night, and I want her to receive in season to answer next week. Does Mr. Dana call often? Annie do go and see Mother often, won't you, for she writes that your visits make her feel very happy and I want her to be very happy.
You see how hard it is for me to stop and Louise says, "Why Helen, you said you were going to write only a line," but just this, your sweet little picture is as precious as gold dust and every one that has seen it, feels that the original must be most beautiful. Now don't be vain, and say that this is all false you know I tell you all as a matter of course, for it makes us love each other more. I have got the sweetest picture of sister Emma, 'tis perfect.
Once more - good-night.
No. 20 East Building. Jan 19th/52
My very dear Annie-
I had almost despaired of hearing from you this week, when your welcome letter reached me yesterday noon Jan. 15th. It seems indeed very natural to hear you speak of having dresses made longer - writing so many letters and - darning stockings. I wonder what was the subject of your composition that you speak of - just think of us, we have to write them every two weeks and more than all read them aloud before the whole school. The other weeks we rehearse poetry. I have now a composition to write on Money, our last was on books, not easy subjects by any means, but I wish you could hear some of them they are truly beautiful, and written in a most chaste style. I suppose one of the brides you are working for is Emmie Cale [sp?]; if you see her please give her much love, and my warmest congratulations. Will she board at home or "keep house" for herself? Does it not seem strange to think of her being married? You merely allude to your visit in Albany as though I knew all about it, when in fact I am entirely ignorant. Can you not give me some of the details, and tell me how Helen is, whether sick or well, and if she received my letter? Do you suppose Helen is offended because I delayed an answer to her letter so long, and then wrote one so hurriedly and so uninteresting. I really fear she is, for I have heard nothing from her, and since you did not mention her, there must be some cause for it. Please give her much love from me, and tell her how much I want to write all my friends, but that unable to do it, all have to be neglected. More than all you can bear ample testimony to my badly written letters, and how much you have to put up with.
What makes you think I know all about H. Boot's calling on Helen and accompanying you home; for I know nothing of it and should love much to have you tell me. Don't you think that I had promised myself to write you a long letter, and when we went to dinner Mrs. Tyler told us we must be ready to go into Chapel much earlier than usual to hear the quarterly reports read, and this you know takes from us all our time for writing, but I will improve the little time we have to tell you all I can. It seems that when Prof. Tyler was here he told his brother that I was engaged, but did not say to whom, and this left them in the dark. Mr. Emerson was here shortly after; to see Mr. Chapin, I suppose, for he spent the Sabbath in Pittsfield and Mr C. was with him most of the time, but on Saturday afternoon he came to see me and after much ado I succeeded in getting into the parlor; he staid a short time and I enjoyed the call very much; but the next, Mrs Tyler, perhaps thinking that he was the gentleman engaged to me, and feeling in consequence of such a state of affairs, probably a little sorry that she had hesitated about my seeing him, (for Miss Ferguson tells me she is very kind in such matters, and if a young lady's lover calls, she (Miss F.) sometimes invites them to come and pass the evening here, and give up her best parlor to their own private use) requested Miss Ferguson to ascertain from me if such was the truth, and ask why I did not tell her; oh Annie, if ever I had a good laugh, it was when she told me, we talked for a long time, telling each other about funny engagements, and she asked me if John and you were not very much attached to each other, and if you would not probably be married. She thought he would make a fine husband for you. I told her I did not know what the termination would be, but I thought you now were very fond of each other. She never had heard so much about Mr. Sanford and Jennie Hitchcock, but she fully realized how easily people were engaged in Amherst. An engagement between Mr. Ellery, a graduate of Amherst, and herself has been in circulation for some time, so she is not free from the share. She says she means to tell Mr Chapin, about the reported engagement between Mr Emerson and myself (notwithstanding she knows it is all false) just for the sport of it, for she says it will then go from him to Yarmouth, thence to Boston, Amherst, Albany, Charleston, Greenfield, Medford and in short after a long journey, returned to the Institute. Won't it be too bad if she does, however I do not care much, since it is not true. But Annie, never mention what I write to you for I may have to suffer for it if you do.
Oh what looking letter to send you, dear Annie, but be thankful for a little poorly sent, and hope some time to have more served in richer colors. Do not ever show or read my letters aloud, for they would highly disgrace me. Mother said in her last weeks letter that she will not particularize in regard to your call therefor doubtless you will tell me all you heard in your absence, even to the remark "Miss Tafts she's the gal for me." What does it all mean - do tell me, I am exceedingly uneasy, oh if we could only be together a little while, how our tongues would rattle. I am glad dear Annie for your own and his sake that Mr Sanford will so soon he in Boston; I hope you will meet no disappointment whatever, but enjoy all you can, and once in a while cast a single thought to her who is removed from all that is dear. Annie, I trust you will never experience such feelings as I have for the last two weeks, not homesickness, oh no, but thoughts of some dear friend. I have awakened such emotions as cannot easily be quenched. Surely my stay here is doing me good, for I am of compelled to nerve myself strongly to overcome the constant rush of thought and feeling. I would not have written this to other than yourself, dear Annie, for you know me well, so do keep it to yourself, won't you.
Give much love to Jane, and to all of your happy band. How I wish you could come here and see me and my room, I am all alone now, Louise having gone down town to make a call. Why didn't you stop in passing through Pittsfield, or let me know you were coming and quite probably I could have gone to the cars and seen you! Do tell me every thing in your next letter, and write soon, for I want so much to hear from you. Do you ever see Mr. Everett now & does his star still remain the same? Mr Tolman speaks of knowing your parents well. By the way, we are using in our Mental Philosophy the system of questions compiled by your honored father for the use of Amherst College. They are right hard, I assure you, we have to study well. I wish you could see me in my gymnasium dress, this a short frock, falled into a yoke, belted down at the waist, with full trousers, buttoned at the ankle. Now dear dear Annie I must say good-night. Oh remember me in you prayers, and God grant that with his richest blessings we may greet ere many more weeks, to enjoy much sweet converse. Remember me most affectionately to Susie, she must not be offended because [letter ends here]
My dear dear Annie,
While waiting for the broom to sweep my room, I have taken out my desk, and am writing with my head covered and apparel on to clean my ---------. I am unable to write anything of a letter, and shall send this to assure you of my remembrance of you. You cannot tell my disappointment in not receiving a line from you this week, for I thought that you would certainly write, but if you will send me a long letter soon, be assured, of your pardon. Has anything new transpired since last I heard from you? I think it very singular that Helen has not written and can only attribute it to some offence, on account of my long neglect - 'tis hard but since my wishes are so contrary to my actions, surely she will excuse it, when informed. I have heard from some quarter, think it was from Mr. Emerson, that Jennie Hitchcock is quite homesick at S. Hadley and regrets not coming here - would it not be pleasant if she were here and you too -oh what nice times we might have rooming together &c. Just as I came to this point Louise handed me the broom - and now that my room is once more in order I hasten to complete this little note. Only think we enter on the thirteenth week tomorrow and then is nine more we may hope to meet, indeed it seems too good to be realized, and if ere that happy hour comes I shall hardly know what to do or say first; can you not decide to return with me in the Spring & spend the Summer term within these walls? Oh do, do. - we shall be very happy together. Often after retiring, I picture to myself, you and I, seated together again, as we have been wont to do, and conversing on some topic deeply interesting to both - oh will that ever be, dear Annie, but we try and be patient, trusting all in the care of Him, who ordereth all things in great ------. How are all the happy family with which you are connected? give much love to Jane and my regards to Master Jacob of course. Love to Susie, and tell her I think of her very often, never do I put on the bow she made for me without calling her to mind and the circumstances of that eventful afternoon. She was a right good girl to write me so long a letter and I really long to answer it, but unless some powerful change takes place I cannot do it, until we meet. Please remember me most kindly to Mr. Adams, and all the scholars. I think of you often in the Virgil recitation. Is the class enlarged at all?
Last evening in speaking with Miss Desmmond one of the best pupils, I accidentaly mentioned the name of Pauline Patten, and she immediately exclaimed that they (her sister and Miss Richardson & Miss Hodgkins) were her best friends, that they resided quite near, & Miss Hodgkins is teaching a small school, with much success.
Give a great deal of love to May Banfield, should love to receive a line from her. Has she ever mentioned my letter sent from Amherst last summer? But no more at present, there are five compositions waiting to be copied into my book and Saturday is the only time I have to do it & must improve my moments.
In great haste, dear Annie,
your loving Helen.
Does Mr. Ban call now to see you?
I beg you not be alarmed at my penmanship although I confess to its great imperfection, still I attribute not a little to one never ceasing hurry.
My dear dear Annie,
Words are inadequate to express my gratitude for the rich and valuable gift received from you on Thursday last. I had waited impatiently for a letter, since Tuesday, when on returning from Chapel, I found that little box awaiting my arrival but imagine, if you can, my feelings when time was only given me to open the box and see its contents without reading either of those welcome letters. Until nine o'clock in the evening I carried them in my pocket hoping every moment to catch some little word, but when that time came, be assured I perused them with great eagerness. Annie, I shall never, never repay you for this or any of your oft repeated kindnesses, and to say, "thank you" is nothing, but I can say, that you could never have suited me one half so well, had I been consulted, it is just exactly what I admire, and it corresponds so exquisitely with my hat, and cloak. The young ladies are all delighted with it, and when I tell them it is the work of your own hands, none are ready to believe me. Miss Ferguson is also its admirer. The corn color is so perfect a shade, and you have blended the colors with very much taste. I shall ever prize it, for its own value, but more than all for her who gave it. Accept my warmest thanks, they are all I can give, and believe you are fondly remembered by your unworthy friend.
Please thank Susie most kindly for her affectionate letter, all the more acceptable from being so unexpected. Tell her not to fear for its interest, it was full of it. I sometimes fear she will think I do not want to write her, but she greatly mistakes, & if I can will answer very soon. Ask to remember me, most respectfully and kindly to her honored parents.
Am glad to know, dear Annie, you are enjoying your winter so much, hope you may continue to do so. Did it not remind you of your old room at Miss Ann's, and our reading class, when Mr. Banfield called on you? What funny times there have been in that little room. Does Mr. (is he doctor yet) Whiting male his stated calls as ever - and how do you see your company, in presence of the family or alone. Suppose if not with others, you are privileged with Mr. Sanford, whom, by the way, I have had no opportunity to ask Mr. Chapin about.
I do indeed realize that April is almost here, but when I think of being with you again, it sometimes seems as though such pleasure could never be in store for me, and that I could enjoy it only in anticipation. But I hope these two months will pass rapidly, that we may meet; let us pray the Father to spare us and in due time bring us together.
I regret that I must send such an imperfect letter again and one so short, they are all a disgrace to me, and I hope you will destroy them as soon as deciphered.
The study bell will soon ring, so good-night, with many thanks, and much love for yourself and Helen, as also to May Banfield.
In great haste, as ever,
your true and loving friend
Do let me hear from you next week. If this is not directed correctly please inform me.
Do not be offended, my dear Annie, but another week must pass without a letter to you whom I love so dearly. Little can you imagine how busy we are, every moment is full, and even the half hour, morning and evening, allotted to exercise is grudgingly yielded to that important duty. Come here one term and you can judge for yourself.
I send this merely to thank you for your letter though so short yet sweet. The night previous to its reception I was troubled exceedingly in my dreams about you, I thought you had been very sick and ere I could not reach you the physician had pronounced your case alarming. It haunted me all day, but when your kind letter came my heart was relieved. I have been unable to ask Mr. Chapin about Mr. Sanford, so cannot inform you. Much love to Susie, oh let her not think that she is forgotten, or that I have ceased to love her, far from it, I love her more, we can both testify, Annie, that "Absence strengtheneth love." Love to May Banfield too, oh how I long to see her. Accept my congratulations, that you have completed Virgil, we as yet take only forty lines, for we have to pay a great deal of attention to scanning and analysis, and then having only stated times to prepare each study, and only so long to study we cannot do as one can at home. Annie, I tremble for examination, lest I should make some blunders. Do not be offended if I write no more this term for I have so much to do, it will be very doubtful. Let me hear from you, wont you, for it cheers me so much. I must close and dress for dinner
Good-bye, dear, dear Annie, I must love and leave you. Your prayers I ask.
With the deepest affection,
Your own Helen.
"Only five weeks more," is all the greeting here.
My dear Annie-
Excuse this uncomely sheet, but dear Annie, I am out of all my nice paper, and this is no place to obtain supplies such as would please us. Then too this yellow envelope, for as this Valentine's day Mrs. Tyler will allow no letters to leave the Institute which bear the faintest resemblance to a valentine, and fearing lest you might not receive this, I have endeavored to give it as great a business form as possible.
Mrs. Tyler prefers we should not write today, for there is some interest manifested among the young ladies, and she deems it more appropriate to spend the time in prayer. I send this merely to remind you that you are not forgotten, and that though separated from you I love you the same. Everything is so still and quiet, we can almost hear the footsteps of our Saviour as he passes from one heart to another. Oh that many may give to Him their all, and date from this time their new birth.
Believe me, my dear Annie, your loving friend
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 9-2005, jr