Helen Hunt Jackson 6-1-7 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 6, Ms 0353, Box 1, Folder 7, miscellaneous
Twice, in this autumn Sabbath at whose Evengate I stand
Helen, after little Murray's death -
[In Helen Hunt Jackson's handwriting]
The Better Way
Who serves his country best?
There is a better way,
There is a better way.
There is a better way.
This is the better way,
There is no better way.
Colorado Springs - July 14, 1887. [transcriber's note: I believe this should be 1881]
By easy slope to west as if it had
"Beloved mountain, I thy worshipper - "
Dorothy Stott Shaw
Edith drew this in a mere few minutes - do you know who was her subject?
[transcriber's note: I believe the subject is Helen Banfield Jackson; Edith was her daughter. The caricature is not of Helen Hunt Jackson]
New York May 16, 1886
To Mrs. Jackson -
Putting up 2 awnings $1.00
New York, May 15th, 1885
To M.E. Keane, Dr.
Making Wrap 8.00
In Helen's writing: A present to my little friend Keane - from H. J.
In a letter, written from Esperanza Farm, New Hartford, Connecticut dated July 28, 1931, Mr. Ellsworth says:
.......For some reason, unknown to me, this serial was declined by the magazine, and sold by the author to Roberts Bros. Of Boston..........Evidently he, (Dr. Holland) as editor, did not take as kindly to a serial by Saxe Holm, as to her short stories.
In addition to the material copied (letters) I have.........a printed form of receipt filled out June 4, 1874, for $400, paid for "My Tourmaline" and signed "Saxe Holm," in the handwriting of Mrs. Jackson and I have also, dated November 29, 1876, a receipt for $200 paid for "Farmer Bassett's Romance," signed "Helen Jackson" in the same handwriting.
The following letter, the copy of which has been furnished by Mr. Ellsworth, does indeed tell much that is of interest.
Dear Mr. Seymour,
I shall have the new Saxe Holm finished by a week from today. I have been at work on it for three months and I do very much hope that it is the best one I have written. It will be about 700 pages of my ms. - and about eighty pages of Scribners. - There are twelve poems in the story, some long and some short. Reckoning the story at eighty pages, it will be worth $960, and the twelve poems I will value at $10 each, although they would bring me $15 to $20 each if printed under my own signature. That makes $1080 for the whole. I hope it will be worth that much to the magazine; - now would you be willing to send me $800 at once, on account, of this story? The remainder, whatever it may be, (the pages may be a little over my estimate, or a little under) to be paid on the completion of the story in the mag. I expect to start for the East on the 20th of June, and if I can have this money now, it will enable me to carry out a project which I much want to accomplish before I leave. I know I am asking a favor, but the manuscript will be in your hands by the time the money reaches me, unless some accident intervenes, and I shall willingly wait for the remainder, till the last no. is printed.
The title of the story is "Mercy Philbrick's Choice"and it is a story which I have been thinking over for a long time. Mr. Jackson says it is far the best of them all: but I suppose he is not an impartial judge.
I propose also, if you approve, to send you at the same time, a short and graphic account of the "Claiments" to the S.H. stories - the letters of Mrs. Burleigh and Mrs. Katharine Gray to the Woman's Journal and the Commonwealth - Saxe Holm's replies to them - the singular silence - etc. - the young woman in New York also ought to come in, and her patron the jeweler, - this whole account to be signed, sealed and delivered by Saxe Holm himself, herself, itself, themselves, and published under the authority of Messrs Scribner. It is really time to put a stop to that business, and the rest. I have a notion to go and see. She is the worst liar of them all. It is certainly the most inexplicable thing I ever knew. Three women in different parts of the country all claiming to be the author of stories they never wrote! You would know best how this "History of the Claimants" should be published. I think in the N. York Tribune - all the papers would copy it; and I think it would be huge fun, besides advertising the new story splendidly. I hope Dr. Holland will be able to begin the publication of the story soon. It will take seven nos. - two chapters a no. - I would like to bring out the volume next spring: this and the other two stories already printed.
By this time you will have perhaps read the story and have decided whether you wish to use it, and how.
Of course it has, for me, a present and intrinsic market value, and I am sure I need not say that I should be extremely sorry to have you feel the slightest hesitancy about declining it if it does not please you.
I should be glad to know as soon as possible what your decision is. With many thanks for your kind letter, I am
In spite of the fact that Dr. Holland did not see fit to publish Mercy Philbrick's Choice as a serial in his magazine, he thought sufficiently well of the author's work to publish several of her poems and articles during the year, and to ask her for another Saxe Holm story in October.
1. Copy furnished by Mr. Ellsworth
The Cradle of Peace
By Helen Hunt Jackson (H.H.)
The Cradle of Peace.
Only half of this name is my own. I wish I could honestly claim the whole; but the sweetest word in it was the though of the man who had known and loved the spot years before I saw it. I, coming later, and perhaps more tired, saw that the air of the land was peace; but all honor to him who first saw and said that it lay in the shape of a cradle. Men going before had called it a park; and one who for some years fed herds on its meadows, had given it his own name, "Bergun."
A giant cradle, indeed, - nine miles long and three wide; Pike's Peak for its foot and a range of battlemented mountains for its head; lying, as it should, due north and south, with high sides sloping up to the east and up to the west to meet the gracious canopy of sky.
In the old, mysterious days of which men think they know, when everything was something quite different from what it is to-day, all these Rocky Mountain parks were lakes, it is said.
Looking down on and into the Cradle of Peace from the high hills of its sides, one easily believes this, but says to himself that the beauty of the primeval lake was only the beauty of a promise. To-day is the fulfillment. They are born by the baptism of water, - this meadow, these grassy slopes, these pine forests; it was that they might be, that the lake was set and ebbed away.
All that is left of it now is a tiny, nameless creek, which zigzags along in the meadow bottom, revealed by the very willows and alders it has lifted to hide itself; revealed also by the bright green of the rich growths on either hand; just water enough in the creek to make the cradle safe and prosperous for a home; just green enough in the meadow strip to light up the soft brown and yellow slopes above, and the dark pines still further above, into an enchanting picture. This is what the ancient lake does for the park to-day, giving it a secret of vitality and an inherited fairness, as does some unknown and unthanked old ancestor far back in the line of a noble house.
I rested three days in the Cradle of Peace. Each moment of each day was brimful of delights to sense and soul; each hour has left me a vivid picture, yet words come slow as I seek to set those pictures in frames of speech. Only he who sees can ever know how surpassingly beautiful is this mountain-walled, pine-walled valley, swung in the air.
On its western side the slopes rise gently to the forest-line. They are grass-grown, - chiefly with the "tuft-grass," which is in July silvery white, and curled in thick mats at the base, with a few slender, brown stalks rising three or four inches high. This gives to the whole surface a uniform tint of indescribable softness, as if a miraculous hoar-frost had fallen, of a pale, brownish-yellow. Sometimes these slopes are broken abruptly by sandy cliffs, - their fronts bright red, of the red sadstone [sic] color, and their lines curving as only water-worn cliffs can curve. Looking down the whole length of the park, the forest-line on these western slopes seems nearly straight and unbroken. Driving along it, one finds that it is a series of promontories of pines, making out into the smooth, grassy level; or, perhaps, one ought the rather to say, remembering the days of the ancient lake, that the smooth grassy level makes up in inlets into the forest. Be it called inlet of smooth, grassy surface, or promontory of pine, inlet and promontory together make, along the whole western side of the park, a succession of sunny-centered, pine-shadowed, miniature half-parks of wonderful beauty. They round into the forest-like coves, they open out on the great park like mouths of rivers. After all, is it the spell of the ancient lake, that the water must still lend all the shapes whose names will fit to the shapes of these nooks in the western forest-edge of the Cradle of Peace? Some of them, as I said, are narrow, and round into the forest-like coves; some of them are acres broad, and have in their centers a thread of brook, tinkly slowly down under the green meadow cover to the creek below. In some of them stand, lonely, bare, inexplicable, great rocks of red sandstone, grooved and rounded and hollowed and smoothed, poised one above another, as if only yesterday the waves had lodged them there; or standing erect, solitary, like single pillars of temples swept away. Nothing could be more weird than these huge, strange-shaped rocks, standing isolated in the pine forests; not a small stone, not a tiny pebble at their base, - only the smooth, grassy spaces and the silent forest about them. No ruin I have ever seen of cities of men's building seemed so solemn, so mysterious, so significant of centuries. On the eastern side of the park, the grassy slopes are very soon broken up into hills. First low, rounding foot-hills, whose lines are only undulations; next higher hills and steeper, but still gentle of curve, and linked each to each by soft, grass-grown hollows; lastly sharp, rocky peaks, separated by deep and difficult ravines. Over all these hills and to the top of the highest peaks grow the same stately pines which make the forest-walls of the western side of the park. The ground is covered many layers thick with the pine-needles, and in a sunny forenoon the air is almost overpoweringly spicy with the pine fragrance. Rambling south or north, one goes from hill-top to hill-top through a succession of dells, no two dells alike and each dell hard to leave; some sudden, narrow, with sides so straight that one might slip swiftly to the bottom and lie as in a hammock; some broader and more open, but still with sides so straight that, climbing up them, one sees the blue sky brought into a marvellously close horizon-line on the upper edge; some filled full of young, waving pines; some with a narrow, water-worn gully in the center, where water runs in spring, and in summer bloom white spiraeas, blue and purple penstemons, harebells, crowfoot, and the huge white thistles, beloved of butterflies; some, almost the beautiful [sic] of all, without either pines or flowers, only the soft, white yellow, and brown and white grasses, with here and there glossy green mats of kinnikinnick, dainty, sturdy indefatigable kinnikinnick. How shall kinnikinnick be told to them who know it not? To a New Englander it might be said that a whortleberrybush changed its mind one day and decided to be a vine, with leaves as glossy as laurel, bells pink-striped and sweet like the arbutus, and berries in clusters and of scarlet instead of black. The Indians call it kinnikinnick, and smoke it in their pipes. White men call it bear-berry, I believe; and there is a Latin name for it, no doubt, in the books. But kinnikinnick is the best, - dainty, sturdy, indefatigable kinnikinnick, green and glossy all the year round, lovely at Christmas and lovely among flowers at mid-summer, as content and thrifty on bare, rocky hillsides as in grassy nooks, growing in long trailing wreaths, five feet long, or in tangled mats, five feet across, as the rock or the valley may need, and living bravely for many weeks without water, to make a house beautiful. I doubt if there be in the world a vine I should hold so precious, indoors and out.
Climbing a little higher, following one of the grassy hill-top lines, as it curves into the forest, you come here and there to small level opens, some so surrounded by pines that you see no vistas, no glimpses of the park, no distance, - only a grassy field, walled high with green and roofed with blue. Some, less shut in, from which you look off in all directions through vistas framed by yellow pine timbers, - now a vista of sky and cloud, now a distant mountain, now a bit of the shining meadow below. A step to right, to left, the vista is changed and the picture new. A forenoon flies like an hour in these sunny forest chambers, with new birds, new insects, new sounds, new sights on every hand. There is a locust in these woods who on the wing is yellow as a butterfly, on the ground is mottled brown and white, like a rattlesnake. His rattle is like castanets, and so loud that when he springs it suddenly under your feet you start as if you had stumbled over "bones" at a negro concert. There are golden-winged woodpeckers and black and white woodpeckers and yellow birds and orioles, and multitudes of sparrow; not singly and far apart, like the terrified survivors in civilized woods, but in numbers, at ease and unconcerned, at home in their wilderness. There are tiny sparrows, no larger than the ricebirds we see in cages. These fly in flocks and spend hours at a time in one tree. I watched a pine-tree full of them one morning. There must have been dozens; yet never was there even one still for one second. The tree itself seemed all a-flutter, - dusky backs, snowy breasts, green pine-needles and yellow branches in a swift kaleidoscope of shifting shape and color.
Now and then a great hawk soars noiselessly from a tree-top near by, and, circling a few times overhead, sinks back again into the pines, so close to you that you fancy you hear the branches open with a soft plash [sic like waves. Squirrels dart back and forth, not even looking at you, and run races and fight fights in the branches of a fallen pine, almost within your hand's reach. When the yellow pine dies and stands still erect, it is a weird thing to see. It looks like a ship's mast, with huge grape-vine tangles fastened to it at right angles. If it falls, it looks still ghastlier, - like some giant lizard, its body stiffened straight in death and its myriad limbs convulsed and cramped in agony. My thoughts linger on these memories of the sounds and sight of those sunny out-door chambers as my feet lingered, walking through them. But there are higher levels yet and an outlook to come; an outlook all the more beautiful, all the more thrilling, because you reach it by the way of the dells and the walled spaces and the near horizons of the wooded foot-hills.
Following the line of some tiny brook, which has ambushed in willows and alders, you will come up and out among the higher peaks, the deep ravines. It is hard scrambling, but well worth while. Each lift to a new ridge-line opens up more and more, until, standing finally on the third or fourth terrace level, you can look fairly over to the west and up to the north and down into the park. Now you see to perfection the sunny inlet spaces in the forest on the western slope, the tender outreaching promontories of pines, and the bright-tinted belts and winding lines of green crops in the meadow center. Now you see the exquisite contour of the up-curving sides, east and west, and the majestic height of the mountains, north and south, which form the cradle.
You see also still further to the west, making a vivid break of light in the wilderness of dark pines, another park, higher than this and of not half its size. Few men have trod there, and no man may dwell in its sweet seclusion, for it has no water. Lonely and safe forever it lies; its only mission to make a perpetual golden gleam in the picture from the upper eastern wall of the Cradle of Peace.
Midway in the forest rises a huge mountain of rock, of most marvellous shape. Turret, roof, wall, it stands a gigantic abbey, and the few pines which grow on its stony sides look merely like the ivy clinging to a ruin. It is a startlingly comic thing to be told that this mountain is called Sugar Loaf; but this is its name, and it is said that, seen from the south country, the shape makes the name true. To one seeing it only from the east this seems incredible, and casts the fable of the gold and silver shield into the shade.
The western horizon is broken by only one peak, which lies sharp cut as a pyramid against the sky. In the northwest and north rise some of the grand mountains of the central range, mighty, snow-topped, remote. The park, the beautiful cradle, seems but a hand's breadth long, lying at the feet of these giants.
In the south, if it is sunset, - and only at sunset should dwellers in the Cradle of Peace climb its eastern wall, - Pike's Peak stands glowing. The north and northwestern side of this glorious mountain are its true face of beauty. Living to the eastward of it, no one knows its grandeur, no one feels its height. Smaller peaks crowding close by it divide and lessen its glory. Its northwestern line stretches along the sky in a steady, harmonious descent, from fifteen thousand feet to eight or ten. Miles and miles of mountain-tops welded into one long, grand spur and ending at last in a sudden life, - a distinct and separated summit, as straight cut as a pyramid and sharper pointed. If it is sunset, - and, as I said, unless it be sunset come not, - you will see this long spur, welded, forged, fitted and piled of mountain masses, glowing in full light, while the park is in soft shadow. Its surfaces area many-sided, sharp-ridged, as if the very mountains had crystallized. The faces which turn west are opaline pink [sic] the faces which turn east are dusky blue, and the pink and the blue change and shift and pale and brighten, until the sweet silence of the twilight seems marked into rythms [sic] by the mere motions of color. It is a sight solemn as beautiful, and the absolute soundlessness of the great forest spaces make the solemnity almost overawing. But as you go slowly down among the pines into the soft grassy hollows, the silence is broken by a sound subtler than stringed instrument, brook or bird can give. - a sound more of kin to Nature, it always seems to me, than any one of Nature's own. It is the faint and distant tinkle of the bell-cow's bell. There is a home in the Cradle of Peace. Standing on one of the low foot-hills, you can look down on it, and see the brown and white herds hurrying toward it through the meadow.
Beautiful Cradle of Peace! There are some spots on earth which seem to have a strong personality about them, - a charm and a spell far beyond anything which mere material nature, however lovely, can exert; a charm which charms like the beauty of a human face, and a spell which lasts like the bond of a human relation. In such spots we can live alone without being lonely. We go away from them with the same sort of sorrow with which we part from friends, and we recall their looks with the yearning tenderness with which we look on the photogoraphs [sic] of beloved absent faces.
Thus I left, thus I shall always recall, the beautiful Cradle of Peace ---- Reprinted from "Bits of Travel at Home," by H.H., by kind permission of Messrs. Roberts Brothers, Publishers.
Reached by three lines of railroads.
Until May 15th, address D.A. Pearson, P.O. Box 658, Colorado Springs;
after which date address Torrington, Colorado.
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 10-02, jr