Helen Hunt Jackson 6-1-8 transcription
Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 6, Ms 0353, Box 1, Folder 8, letters
from HHJ, mainly early 1850s and mid-1880s, with miscellaneous material
Many thanks for your good letter, yesterday received. - We start for Albany, Hattie Palmer (a "poor child" in her deformity and weakness) her brother and myself, on Tues. Morning; - spend the afternoon and night in Springfield, and go on the next morning. I have tried, all ways, to make a plan for running over to Amherst in the [ ], but in vain. "Tis all for the best" as you say, in your "comprehensive faith"!!
So farewell - ; I feel quite like taking a serious leave of all my friends in Massachusetts, before turning my face eastward. My address in Albany will be Care of Rev. Ray Palmer.
157 Hamilton Street.
Good bye, with thanks and all good wishes.
Helen M. Fiske.
X X A new disease has fallen on the life of man. Every Age, like every
human body, has its own distemper. Other times have had war, or famine,
or a barbarian domestication bordering as their antagonism. Our forefathers
walked in the world, and and [sic] went to their graves, tormented with
the fear of Sin, and the terror of the Day of Judgement. These terrors
have lost their power and our torment is Unbelief, the Uncertainty as
to what we ought to do: the distrust of the value of what we do, and the
distrust that the Necessity, I (which we all at last believe in) is fair
and beneficial. Our Religion assumes the negative form of rejection: out
of love of the true, we repudiate the false; and the Religion is an abolishing
The genius of the day does not incline to a deed, but to a beholding. It is not that men do not wish to act; they pine to be employed, but are so delayed by the uncertainty what they should do. The adequacy of the work to the faculties is the painful perception which kept them still. This happens to the best. These talents being their usual temptations, and the current literature & poetry, with perceived ingenuity draw us away from life to solitude and meditating: - - -
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Lectures on the Times.
It may be believed in the world said the stars; when they must certainly have their own peculiar notions upon devotion, that even the involuntary folding of the hands may be valued at a prayer; and many warm hand-pressed, and life's pressures, yet, and many curses can, be these received, as ejaculatory prayers; while at the same time, the great church-illuminating prayers, that are prepared for the [pull?], without self-reform, merely for occasions foreign to the heart, or worked out in us, ought, with a purpose of being send a manly, pulpit eloquence may be there, received as curses."
Walt, the poet, writes this, on a journey X X X X
Now I understand, he wrote in his journal, as I always do on a journey, when what the anxiety we came by the magic influence of the hour of Pan. It lasts, I think, from eleven and twelve, to one o'clock. Therefore the Grecians believed in the hour of Pan; and, people at the present time, in a noon-day ghost; and the Russians, in a mid-day demon, that rules this house. While it lasts, the birds are silent, then sleep, near their tools of labor: throughout nations, there is something secret; yes, something mysterious, as though the dreams of their mid-day Serpent was floating around. Near us, all is safe and low, while in the verge, where heaven and earth meet, some seem to have. We do not, in a magic hour, remember the pain but it unconsciously penetrates, and fills us, with yearning and melancholy. Toward the vesper hour, life becomes again fresh and powerful."
My dearest Luly -
I am provoked enough to bite! Provoked with myself - you - Edward - Gen Pine - the whole system of babies - your father - everybody & everything on the globe! - I do assure you that I had not the slightest idea of intimating such a thing to your father - and I can't now for the life of me, remember anything in the letter in regard to health, except the one statement that the last four weeks I had not been quite so well as usual, & had not felt surplus energy enough to enter upon the discussion of such momentous business topics. - Much as I used to tell the Deacon that you & Hattie thought ridiculous, I certainly should have never thought of making him a confidant in such matters! - And I did not mean to have any of you know it yet! Oh dear! I'm so vexed! It almost kept me awake last night - which was a cruel dispensation for the hours I am asleep, are my only tranquil ones now! - If I had been near you, I should have told you of it - and trusted in your ingenuity to keep it secret - hard as the thing is to hide, but somehow I could not bear to write it - and I felt a fear too that it would leak out - and you & Hattie, Eliza would have great laughs over me, up in your rooms - and altogether, I did not want to say a word about it, - though I did want to tell you; it seemed as if you had known everything else, since a year ago this time, sooner - & more fully than anybody else - and you ought to know that; - But it seems you have been indulging in these improper suspicions, for "two months" ; you are too keen my dear - ahead of the times by a month, at least so far as my own knowledge goes; for it is but just four weeks last Sunday since my fears were awakened or had apparently any reason to be! - I did have the influenza and I was sick with it too - tho tormented - and so was two thirds of my acquaintances! - But now that you know the bulk, I am glad of a chance to grumble! - It is a kind of satisfaction to be able to vent ones feelings under such circumstances - and so let me tell you, in the first place - that this is no joking matter! - I never knew what discomfort meant before! - For about six weeks now I have, literally, not had one moments freedom from the most unendurable nausea - the worst state of seasickness is about a parallel for it. - Eating has become a thing of memory with me; I once in a while indulge myself in a vain & tantalizing retrospect of the times when I used to swallow food in some quantity & with relish; but it is not a wise contemplation for me & I don't often entertain it. - I have not eaten for three weeks or more - anything but dry bread with toasted salt-fish - & occasionally a little farina or rice; some days I cannot eat at all - and fast for twenty-four hours! How do you like the programme? - Prepare your mind for it! - Yesterday & today have been my worst days for some time; this morning I took a few spoonfuls of farina gruel & a little tea - & had the benefit of it for five minutes; about half an hour since my thirst grew so intolerable that I ate an apple; but I shall pay for it. - At first I had the most insatiable passion for oranges & lived on them, eating sometimes six a day, but now they are odious to me. - Dr. Witherspoon, my doctor (!) (by the way do you know we army people have our doctoring & medicines all for nothing? - Its quite an item too!) - has been here this morning. - He comes over in two or three days to see how I hold out, & commenced some new notion or other; only think of my having actually talked with a strange Dr. about it! Bah! How I felt! But I was too sick to care as much as you would suppose. - I have the consolation - and I think it is a consolation when you are in misery - of knowing that very few suffer as I have; he has ordered today a belladonna plaster! - I have no faith in anything helping me but the arrival of the end of the third month - but I like the name of this plaster because it reminds me of dear old Homeopathy! Alas! There is no physician here of that faith, who has any standing - so if I make my exit from life, in these regions, you'll all think me murdered - & I must say I shall incline to the opinion myself. - Dr. W. though is a good doctor - gives little medicine & etc. Well, - have you had enough of it! - I guess you have - & I will stop; only, in closing let me say - do be merciful - all you girls - & not laugh too much at me - and don't let it get "out of the family" - unless you are particularly anxious to tell Augustus! Oh dear - If you don't have a baby in just one year after you're married I shall be so vexed! I'll risk it though! I know you will! - But just think what I shall be about, at the time of your wedding, instead of being there to help you do last things & share the joyfulness! Oh! Oh!
There - Luly - dear Luly - All the above you may read to Hattie - & your mother too - .. At Mary Sprague would say you don't think its too disgusting - but now, I'm going to talk to you & you all alone. - All this is true enough - about the sickness &etc; I am having a bitter experience - but after all - there is another & a new life in it, that I can speak to you about. Oh Luly - it is so solemn - so strange! I have been more than once bewildered since my marriage, by the revealing of new depths of being and joying in my nature - by the holy mystery of such soul-blending as love can teach two that are one, but this is strangest [fearfi.....] of all! Luly, you wrote very lovingly to me in one of your letters of those same things of which we never really spoke - of which you know the very cause of my being almost - forbid me to speak; I did not reply - not because my heart did not answer - but because the words "were not" that I could say. But - darling - I think more & more, with this new link between me & the unseen world - of all - all that the words earth and Heaven mean! The thought of the future passes almost too heavily sometimes: I may not live for I do not deceive myself and I know this weaning sickness is diminishing my strength; but if I do - I shall have a soul in my hands - Can my child live as I have lived - Oh No! Can I teach it to pray, if I do not pray! Oh - Luly, this is to me a weight of responsibility - in such thoughts, which can almost sadden the thrilling joy of the thought of being a mother! - Now dearest Luly - will you wonder that I have told you these things? I think not! - You will not understand these all now - but ere long! And you will not think but lovingly or sympathizingly of me; because I have learned to think deeply and sadly of all this - and to feel that I must - seek other strength than my own will can make. - And now dear I must stop for I am tired & sick - I have written this on my lap anyhow. - Do write me soon - I care more for letters now than ever as you can imagine. - I ought not to close without saying that Edward is all that you would know he would be! To think of anybody's ever thinking him cold! - I believe he would gladly take my suffering if he could! - I have wondered often how I should have endured such an experience, with an unloving husband - or one who had not mind & congeniality enough to entertwine me, & make me forget myself. - I did not mean to neglect your question about Henry - though I cannot answer without pain. According to the Spirit - of my old confidence, in you in regard to him - I will send you the only letter I have received from him. It is now a month since I answered it & I look for a letter every day. - You know how I love Henry - I cannot bear the thought of our correspondence flagging out, but I fear it is best. - Edward will never feel perfectly happy as to the relation - though he insists on my not breaking it off; he is ashamed of the feeling, I see, & yet cannot quite conquer it. - Henry would do & feel well & rightly enough if he were with me - but he has such a morbid way of analyzing his own emotions, & wondering if he doesn't feel so & do - that I presume by this time, he is quite unsettled as to the nature of his regard for me. Do you understand? I've no room to enlarge - but if you don't will amplify in my next. - Don't say one word to anybody about this - will you - Goodbye - Love to Hattie & all. - Yrs ever lovingly Helen Do write soon.
Thanks for the pattern. I guess it is in season. -
My dear Mr. Palmer,
I find myself "lame o ane side" this morning, like the old Scotch wife -; a just punishment for taking a weeks exercise in one hot day. So I do not believe I shall be able to come over tonight; and I find too that this everlasting Susie Mayben is going to stay till night, so Annie could not come if I did. Perhaps some evening, the earlier part of next week will prove more available. I felt sadly all last evening dear Mr. Palmer to think of what I had said; do not think strange that I should come to you with such a vexation. I believe that if I had waited until I was cooler, I should not have told you. And yet I cannot be wholly sorry that you know all; only I am so afraid that you will get a wrong or an exaggerated idea of the state of things between Annie and me. We never have a word of difference of any unpleasant kind - or anything approaching to it - we live in the most perfect harmony, and enjoy a great great deal, except when questions of this sort - points of propriety come up. Then we always and hopelessly disagree, and I cannot help feeling therefore that it is best for me to keep my resolutions and never allude to them. Still I want to do what is right, and it does not seems right, for me to see a younger sister, doing what I think is wrong, and not say anything to her. And so I am in the most painful perplexity - and it was this reason chiefly, my dearest Mr. Palmer, that I came to you with it all. Thank you, Thank you, for your kind and ready sympathy, and your listening ear in this, as in all my exigencies! If I am not grateful enough to my Heavenly Father, and I know I am not, for any other of my blessings, I know I am grateful to him, from the very bottom of a full heart, for your protecting friendship. I can never repay you. And now I feel as if I almost ought to apologize again for intruding on you another word, in regard to that matter, but I feared some impressions had been made which I would prefer to have removed.
Can you without too much trouble just enclose in a letter by the afternoon mail, $5.00. I expect a bill for seamstress work (not dressmaking) in this coming, which I have not the cash to remit. On the whole, if you are willing, I guess I will take $10.00 for I expect the bill will be a pretty heavy one, and if this is much surplus, it will go to the necessities of another week. - I am so sorry for one thing that I cannot come over today. Don't laugh! I want to see the little gold pear which Mr. Bathcheldor has bought for me! You know I wanted some little thing which would open and shut - and he told me last night he had got a pear.
Goodbye, my dear dear guardian. I am sorry not to see Mrs. Palmer again. - My best love to her and to the girls, though it seems laughable to send love to people you see every day! With much to yourself however, for all that, I am as ever,
Your affectionate and grateful Helen.
157 Hamilton St. Mon eve.
My dearest Guardian -
I write a few lines to enclose in Annies letter - just to tell you that Lieut H. has been here - was here all last week - that he is very anxious to go to Amherst this summer with me - that I am delighted with the idea of Ms. Peabody's going too, so that we can all go to the Hygeian - that I do most intensely want Annie to go too, just to commencement - and that I do most intensely want you to help fit up and consolidate this beautiful castle in the air, which out of all these materials I have been framing.
Now, you would not object to Annie's going with us, would you, under such circumstances? I am sure I cannot see why you should at all. I hope you will not, for our plan needs her. - I have written a note to Mrs. P. asking her to let me know at once what her plans are, and if I had not better write to Henry Root to engage our accommodations. In my last letter, he says that most of the rooms in the Hygeian are low and close, but that he can engage the best only for us, now, if we decide. This is the only way to secure good accommodations in the weeks at Commencement. He boards at the house, and would be the best person for making any such arrangement. - Now Mr. Palmer do you think there can be any reason why Annie should not go in such a sober party - Lieut. H. & Mrs. Peabody! & me! - only we are a thousand strong - and I am sure no one could see a shadow of impropriety in it. - Lieut. H. will certainly go, he says, if I do - and I shall certainly go, so there seems no uncertainty about it any way. - And Mr. Palmer, I have read him some of Henrys letters and he likes him and them very much, just as I predicated - and looks at our relation just as I do!! May I not triumph a little over you? He says he has, in Mrs. Reverton of West Point, just such a friend as Henry Root has in me. - So, I am all at ease, on that score, and am anticipating a great deal in their becoming acquainted this summer.
I should love to write more, but it is almost tea time - and I must write to Lieut. H. tonight. - Do do do - say that Annie may go with us, - and do uphold the hands of Mrs. Peabody's resolution - for if she doesn't go, we shall have to go to Mrs. Emerson's, and I do not want to. - My love to Luly - tell her that Ed Norton spent a small age here this P.M. And seemed rather oppressed by his real "feelings" though of what nature they were, I was rather puzzled to divine! Good bye.
Yours ever affectionately.
Nov. 17. 1877
Dear Mother - and the rest of you -
Will has treated you all so shabbily, that I am desirous to come to the rescue, and send you a letter myself. I think I have asked him as often as once a week for the last three months, if he had written home, and he always replies - "I declare: I must write, Peggy. I'll write tomorrow." But he has not written for I have just asked him, - and so I am going to try to fill his place. - In the first place, then, I will tell you some of the reasons why he has not written: he has been away twice this summer, for a two days journey - first into the San Juan country - next, into the mining region over beyond the South Park; then, we have been building a little house - or rather, altering over an old one - and that has given him much to do, and think about; lastly, his clerk has been away for a month, and that has left him much more closely tied up at the bank than usual. All these are not reasons for his not writing, I know - but they are explanatory of the fact - I might add a fourth which would be the strongest of all: ie. He hates to write a letter. The only way I get any out of him, myself, when we are separated, is by giving him a package of envelopes all addressed and stamped, ready to mail, so that he has only to slip in a bit of paper with a few words written on it.
Now you will like to hear about the new house; we have been in it three weeks; and are in considerable confusion yet; but it begins to look very homelike and pretty, and when it is all in order, will be as cozy and picturesque a little spot as is often seen. The best thing about it however is that it is wonderfully convenient. I have not yet discovered a thing I would change in it, and that is saying a great deal. I will draw a plan of it, for you, for I am sure that you will all be interested in seeing what sort of a home Will has made for himself. We are both very sorry that it is so far away that we can hardly hope to see you in it.
Will is pretty well - not certainly
[rest of letter missing]
Dear Maggie -
You are very kind to take so much trouble about Quaker Literature for me. - I am sure you will find all I want. You are asking so diligently. -
Yes - I have seen both the Bowdens Hist. & the "New England Judges." Prof. Horsford has them both. He gave $15 for the latter, as a rare book. He did not tell me what he gave for the other - but it was cheaper. -
At several antiquarian Book stores, they told me they occasionally had copies of both these books; not often. -
The Sewells Hist. I would like - also the Penn's "No Cross No Crown" and the Barclays Apology. -
It is always cheaper to send books by mail, out here, than by Express. - Express rates are very high. - I enclose a cheque for $25 for a little fund on hand, for you, to meet incidental expenses of book buying, postage, etc. -
I have Hallowells "Quaker Invasion." - a most interesting book -
I have marked on the catalogue, those of the books which I think I should like. -
I don't know how it is at "Friends Bookstores but at the bookstores of the Worlds People, you can always get any book you buy done up properly for sending by mail, so that all the trouble you have is getting it weighed and stamped - anything under four pounds weight comes by mail. -
I am sorry to hear that Aunt Hannah is feeble. - You must give our love to her - also to Mother and all. - Will is very well - I have never seen Will so well in the Spring - He ascribes it to the smoking of three cigars a day! - Much to my chagrin. - I would that they made him deadly sick, if thereby he could be broken of the odious practice.
It is exceedingly good to be at home again. - I am suffering somewhat from the altitude - but not so much as I did last year. - We are having almost daily rains which are an unspeakable alleviation to me. - With many thanks -
Yours ever affly -
I hate to tell you a bad piece of news of myself - I've broken my leg - tumbled down stairs June 28 - & smashed it up badly - left leg - 3 broken between knee & ankle - the Drs. say it will be a good leg again -- but I doubt it -- I suffered [agrieves?] the first ten days -- since then have been very comfortable - barring the fatigue of being on my back in bed - the leg is in plaster - & I am helpless enough. - I have a good surgeon & 3 splendid women - & Will is away most of the time, which is a great relief - of course it is lonely not to see him - but that is nothing in comparison with the satisfaction of knowing he is too busy to miss me - W worried me more than my leg did, to see him all upset in his home life - no place to sit or eat except in sight or sound of me - I am in the dining room - could not be carried up stairs - & it was well I was not - it is so much more comfortable here & easy to take care of me. - I am very glad of all the books you have sent. Pretty soon I shall begin to read them systematically & with purpose. As yet, my head is not good for anything more than novels, & letter-writing. -
I suppose you saw that Will has been made receiver of the D. & R. G.; - a Capital thing for him - if he does not have to work too hard - If he succeeds in pulling the road on its feet again, it will give him great reputation among railroad men - & at any rate, his appointment was a valid tribute to his uprightness & capacity - The whole state has rejoiced over it. -
Love to Mother & Aunt H. -
I hope you will find the Bowden & the N. England Judges. - Did you write to Uncle James [Ja...ers] heirs? It seems to me he would have been likely to have them. -
Good bye - many thanks for the book ransacking -
Ever affly -
I suppose I have but a few days to life, and I feel it in my heart to bid you goodbye. I think we shall meet before long in that other existence of which we know so little. It is hard to leave Will, but I have full faith that there is in store for him in the future a life more completely rounded and complete, than I with all my intense love for him have been able to create. I feel that my work is done, and I am certainly content to go. - I wish I could have seen more of you in these late years. - With very much love to dear Maggie, and all the sisters, and warm filial love to you. Farewell -
Will's wife - Helen.
David Vinal & Deborah Otis married June 7 - 1770
outside of little note: Cousin Ann
[transcriber's note: this appears to be one of the little notes Helen wrote when she first realized she was not going to live much longer. They were folded away and distributed after she was gone. Also, the note shows Helen Banfield added above the name Annie Davenport, as though some time after the note was written she changed her mind. If she had meant the other name when writing the note, she would have simply written it immediately after the crossed out name.]
Mar. 25 -
Dear Cousin Ann,
I give you the most precious thing I possess, the picture of Rennie.
Goodbye dear cousin Ann - Thank you for all your kindness & interest in me, for all those long years -
Love to Cousin Ellen.
Was it not a strange thing I must die in San Francisco! -
Real Estate held in this Trust
11 Bickford St. Boston app. @ 2800.00
take depositions of witnesses out of state $ 8.40
Balance Invested Sched. C $ 5,574.00
1887 Rents, interest and other income
Collected - 1489.57; less agts. com
City tax for 1885 771.84 ditto for 1886 524.14 1295.98
and asks to be allowed for sundry payments and charges as stated in Schedule B herewith exhibited 2461.02
C.H. Fiske Trustee -
Boston January 27, 1890
" 5/12 Rear of 40 Pitt St. 142.05
Amount paid out and charges as follows:
Repairs 19.50, water notes 6., Taxes 16.77, Ins. 4.50, 3 Cooks Ct. 46.77
22.98 633 Bennington St. 98.81
Copy of the Ninth Annual Account of Charles Fiske, Trustee under the Will of Helen Jackson, late of Colorado Springs, in state of Colorado, deceased - of certain estate held by him for the benefit of Anne F. Davenport, Helen F. Banfield, now Helen Banfield Jackson, Mary Banfield and Edith Banfield & for other purposes. Said accountant charges himself with several amounts received as stated in Schedule A herewith exhibited $2479.25
And asks to be allowed for Sundry payments and charges as stated in Schedule B herewith exhibited 2479.25
Balance invested as particularly stated in Schedule C herewith Exhibited Nothing
Chas. H. Fiske.
Less Collection charges 130.42
Repairs Taxes Waterworks Insurance
68.50 16.64 6.00 1.26 3 Cook's Court 92.40
Rent for safe deposit box 2.50
Disbursements of net income as follows to wit:
maintained by Special Collections; last revised, 10-02, jr