Helen Hunt Jackson letter book 1 transcription
Deborah Waterman Vinal Fiske, HHJ’s mother, to Helen Maria Fiske (HHJ), 1835-1843, compiled by Nathan Fiske, HHJ’s father, in 1846. Ms 0020, Box 2, Book 1, transcribed by Gloria J. Helmuth, July 1998
Correspondence DWVF and HMF, 1835-43
My Dear Daughter,
In this collection I have put together a number of letters written to you by your departed mother, with two or three written by your father, & several written by yourself. They are arranged in chronological order.
The perusal may sometimes beguile a weary moment, & under the blessing of God may inspire you with a suitable emulation of your dear mother's many virtues.
That you may be prepared to meet her among the redeemed,
is the constant prayer
of your affectionate father,
Amherst June 25. 1846.
This was written Sept. 1835. - Your father had carried your mother over to New Salem, where she took the stage for Weston. You were with us, & came back with your Father. You could not read writing at that time. Saturday morning
My dear Helen
When I was riding in the Stage yesterday I thought of you very often and was glad you were with Papa because I knew he would take good care of you. I hope your lame shoulder has got well and that you are a happy good little girl. I trust that you behaved well going back to Amherst, and that you have already received some of your books back again. I put them on the Wash Stand in Papa's Study. You would have been very tired yesterday if you had been very ti in the Stage with me for you would not have had room enough hardly to sit down there were so many ladies and gentlemen and children going to Boston. We passed a bright looking little boy in the morning going to school; the driver urged him to get up and ride back with him but the little boy refused. I suppose his mother told him to go directly to school. I thought he was a good child and that I would tell you about him.
A cruel man whipped his horse very hard to make him run by the Stage but the Stage went the fastest and the man came very near upsetting his wagon by driving against the wheels of the Stage. I did not have any dinner till 3 o'clock at Bolton - you can find the place on the little map. It was nearly dark when the Stage drove up to Grand-papa's door. Aunt Maria said she was very glad to see me and then said "where's Helen." I told her that I had promised you that if you were a good girl you should come next time. Your little cousin Abby is almost as large as you - she is helping her mother string apples to day and your cousins Martha and Mary are cutting and paring them. Aunt Maria's grey cat has two little black kittens with white feet. I want to see you, and little Ann very much.
I hope you will always play with her when she seems unhappy and do just as Papa and Miss Leonard & Eunice wish to have you. I hope to find that you have been very careful of your green frock - that you have not dirtied it by getting down upon the floor.
I wish you would begin the book of Joshua and read it through excepting the chap's with hard names while I am gone (Papa will tell you the hard words); then when I get home you can tell me about Rahab's hiding the spies upon the roof of a house under stalks of flax - and the priests blowing the trumpets about Jericho - and the Sun & Moon standing still. You must not go to sleep any night without asking God to take care of you.
[this whole letter is printed in big block letters]
MY DEAR HELEN
BY THE TIME THIS LETTER WILL REACH WESTON YOU WILL HAVE PLAYED ENOUGH WITH YOUR LITTLE COUSINS TO BE WILLING TO STOP AND READ A LETTER FROM HOME. I PRESUME YOU WISH TO SEE LITTLE ANN VERY MUCH; SHE HAS SAID "BAPA" SEVERAL TIMES TO DAY, AND WHEN I HAVE SAID "WHERE IS HELEN", SHE HAS LOOKED TOWARD THE DOORS AND LAUGHED AS IF SHE THOUGHT YOU WERE HID AND WOULD POP IN.
I HAVE BEEN PLANTING FLOWER SEEDS TO DAY AND HAVE PLANTED SEVERAL KINDS IN YOUR GARDEN. JUST BEFORE NIGHT I WATERED YOUR GARDEN AND THE CUCUMBERS.
YOU RECOLLECT IN WHAT DISORDER ALL THE ROOMS WERE WHEN YOU AND PAPA LEFT US. NOW THE FRONT ROOM IS VERY CLEAN. I NAILED DOWN THE CARPET THIS AFTERNOON.
THIS MORNING COUSINJANE AND I TOOK ANN IN HER WAGON AND WENT DOWN TO SEE MRS. JACOB. WILLIAM RAN AWAY TUESDAY, SO HIS POOR MOTHER HAS NO ONE TO TAKE CARE OF HER BUT THE NEIGHBOURS; SHE WAS SO UNHAPPY THAT SHE CRIED WHILE WE WERE THERE; I PITIED HER VERY MUCH, AND SHALL GO TO SEE HER, AND SEND HER SOMETHING OFTEN.
GIVE MY LOVE TO AUNT MARIA, YOUR COUSINS, AND THEIR MOTHER. BE VERY OBEDIENT AND PLEASANT AND OBLIGING WHERE EVER YOU GO. IT WILL MAKE ME VERY HAPPY IF PAPA CAN WRITE THAT HELEN IS A GOOD GIRL AND MAKING HER FRIENDS NO UNNECESSARY TROUBLE. I HAVE PRINTED THIS LETTER SO THAT YOU MIGHT READ IT YOURSELF THINKING IT WOULD PLEASE YOU MORE. YOU MUST PRINT SOME TO ME WHEN PAPA WRITES.
YOUR AFFECTIONATE MOTHER, D.W.FISKE
COUSIN JANE AND MARRY SEND THEIR LOVE TO YOU. YOUR PUSSY DOES NOT KNOW THAT I AM WRITING OR SHE MIGHT SEND HER LOVE OR A PURR
[in Nathan's handwriting] This letter & the two following were written to you, while you were with your father, on a visit to Weston & Boston, in the summer of 1836.Addressed: MISS HELEN MARIA FISKE, BOSTON FRIDAY EVENING.
MY DEAR HELEN,
I HOPE YOU ARE VERY HAPPY AMONG YOUR KIND FRIENDS, AND THAT YOU TRY EVERY DAY TO MAKE THEM AS LITTLE TROUBLE AS POSSIBLE. REMEMBER THAT IT IS A GREAT DEAL FOR THEM TO PUT YOU TO BED EVERY NIGHT, AND HELP DRESS YOU EVERY MORNING, AND PREPARE YOUR FOOD, AND ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS. YOU MUST INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO COME TO AMHERST; AND TELL THEM THAT YOU AND YOUR MAMA TOO, WILL BE VERY HAPPY TO DO AS MUCH FOR THEM AS THEY DO FOR YOU. YOU CAN DO MANY THINGS AT THE TIME TO REPAY THEIR ATTENTIONS. YOU CAN DUST CHAIRS, AND TAKE THE LAMPS DOWN FROM THE CHAMBERS, AND CARRY AWAY DISHES, AND SEVERAL OTHER THINGS. THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU MUST BE VERY CAREFUL TO AVOID DOING, AND I SHALL PRINT THEM ON SEPERATE LINES THAT YOU MAY NOTICE EVERY ONE.
NEVER TALK WHEN OTHERS PRESENT ARE SPEAKING.
NEVER OCCUPY THE ROCKING CHAIR, OR THE EASIEST CHAIR IN THE ROOM WHEN ANY OLDER PERSON IS PRESENT.
NEVER TURN YOUR HEAD AWAY IN SILENCE WHEN ANY ONE ASKS YOU A QUESTION.
NEVER SPEAK OF HATING THINGS OR PEOPLE.
NEVER SAY YOU DO NOT LOVE ANY FOOD PLACED BEFORE YOU.
NEVER EAT AFTER ALL AT THE TABLE ARE DONE BUT YOURSELF.
NEVER GET DOWN UPON THE FLOOR.
NEVER LEAVE CHAIRS OUT OF PLACE, OR PUSH THEM UP AGAINST THE PAPER OR PAINT WHEN YOU YOU SET THEM AWAY.
I CAN NOT STOP TO SPECIFY ANY MORE THINGS WHICH I HOPE YOU WILL NOT DO. I TRUST YOU WILL BE A VERY GOOD GIRL. I WISH VERY MUCH TO SEE YOU, AND AM VERY MUCH DISSAPOINTED TO NIGHT BECAUSE PAPA AND YOU HAVE NOT SENT ME ANOTHER LETTER, TELLING ME WHETHER YOU HAVE GOT RID OF YOUR COLD, WHERE YOU ARE, AND WHETHER YOU HAVE SEEN GRANDPAPA VINAL YET.
I HAVE A BAD COLD WHICH HAS MADE ME COUGH A GOOD DEAL FOR TWO DAYS. LITTLE ANN ALSO HAS A BAD COLD. I TRY TO TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF HER, AND KEEP HER HAPPY. I THINK SHE MISSES YOU; YESTERDAY SHE SEEMED VERY GLAD TO SEE YOUR FROCK UPON THE CLOTHES HORSE, AND TOOK YOUR PANTALET'S AND WALKED ABOUT WITH THEM UPON HER ARM FOR SOME TIME.
THERE ARE SIX ROSES UPON MY ROSE BUSHES AND THERE HAVE BEEN THREE UPON YOURS, AND YOU HAVE FIVE BUDS THAT I THINK WILL BLOSSOM BY THE TIME YOU GET HOME.
PUSSY IS INTENDING TO WRITE SO I WILL LEAVE THE REMAINDER OF THE SHEET FOR HER.
I WAS VERY GLAD OF YOUR SHORT LETTER, AND HOPE TO FIND A LONGER ONE IN THE OFFICE TO NIGHT.
LITTLE ANN MADE THIS DIRTY PLACE TRYING TO PULL THE LETTER OFF MY DESK.
I HOPE YOU WILL NOT EAT ANY RICH CAKE OR SUGAR TOYS, OR BUT VERY LITTLE MEAT TILL YOU COUGH IS GONE.
YOUR AFFECTIONATE MOTHER
MY DEAR HELEN
THIS IS WHAT YOUR MOTHER CALLS YOU, BUT IF IT IS PROPER TO SPEAK THE TRUTH, I MAY SAY "MY DEAR HELEN" TOO; FOR IF YOU WERE A REAL PUSSY, MY MOTHER, OR MY LITTLE KITTEN, I COULD NOT LOVE YOU ANY BETTER. HOW MANY GOOD BITS YOU HAVE GIVEN ME OF YOUR SUPPERS, AND HOW MANY NICE NAPS I HAVE HAD IN YOUR LAP; OH, I'LL NEVER LET A RAT OR MOUSE TOUCH ANYTHING OF YOURS AS LONG AS I LIVE.
I WAS A SILLY CAT TO BE SO FRIGHTENED JUST AFTER YOU WENT AWAY; THAT LETTER HAD NOT REACHED BOSTON BEFORE I WISHED I HAD NEVER WROTE IT. ALL THAT MYSTERIOUS BUSTLE PROVED TO BE NOTHING IN THE WORLD, BUT WHAT THEY CALL THE SPRING HOUSE CLEANING. NOW EVERYTHING IS IN ITS OLD PLACE AGAIN, AND APPEARS THE SAME AS EVER; EXCEPTING THE WINDOWS, THEY ARE SO TRANSPARENT, I THOUGHT THE OTHER AFTERNOON IT WOULD BE A HANDY WAY TO GO OUT OF DOORS TO JUMP THROUGH, NOT DREAMING BUT THE GLASS HAD BEEN TAKEN OUT AND LAID AWAY WITH THE BRASS ANDIRONS AGAINST NEXT WINTER. I FOUND IT A GREAT MISTAKE - BACKWARD I FELL UPON THE FLOOR, AND MY POOR NOSE TINGLES YET FROM THE SAD THUMP IT GOT AGAINST THE GLASS. AND WHEN I WASH MY FACE MY NOSE FEELS AS IF IT MUST HAVE A VERY FLAT LOOK, IF IT HAS SUCH A LOOK, I AM SURE I HOPE IT WILL OUT GROW IT FOR THE BEAUTY OF ANY CAT'S FACE IS A HANDSOME NOSE.
I WISH MY MISTRESS HAD LEFT ME MORE ROOM FOR I WANTED TO TELL YOU ABOUT A FREE SCHOOL I HAVE JUST OPENED FOR OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD IN THE NEW BUILDING AND WHAT DREADFUL WORK THE CATS MAKE TRYING TO PRINT. YOURS TRULY PUSSY
Addressed: MISS HELEN M. FISKE. BOSTON.
MY DEAR HELEN,
I DONT PRETEND TO KNOW SO MUCH AS THE CATS THAT WRITE FOR THE YOUTHS COMPANION, BUT I KNOW YOU WILL BE GLAD TO HAVE A LETTER FROM ME, BECAUSE I AM YOUR PUSSY AND CAN TELL YOU THINGS ABOUT HOME.
YOU CAN NOT IMAGINE WHAT A MISERABLE LIFE I'VE LED EVER SINCE YOU WENT AWAY. I DO LONG TO HAVE YOU COME BACK, AND YOU HAD BETTER COME SOON IF YOU WANT TO FIND ANY PLACE TO LIVE IN, FOR I VERILY BELIEVE THE FOLKS ARE TAKING THE HOUSE DOWN. YOU HAD NOT GONE FARTHER THAN BELCHERTOWN, BEFORE EVER SO MANY WINDOWS WERE PULLED OUT, SINCE THEN THEY HAVE BEEN HAMMERING AND PRYING ALL ROUND THE EDGES OF THE ROOM, AND DOING SOMETHING TO THE DOORS, SO I SUPPOSE THEY ARE TO BE TAKEN DOWN, AND THE FLOORS PULLED UP NEXT. SUCH A DUST AS ALL THIS DEMOLISHING MAKES, I DONT BELIEVE YOU EVER SAW; MY EYES ARE SO FILLED WITH IT I CAN SCARCELY SEE TO WRITE, AND I HAVE ALMOST KILLED MYSELF SNEEZING.
THERE ARE BUT TWO PLACES WHERE I PRETEND TO STAY - UP IN THE LOFT OF THE NEW BUILDING, AND UNDER THE ROSE BUSHES FRONT OF THE HOUSE. YOU WILL NOT WONDER THAT UNDER ALL I HAVE TOLD YOU, MY HEALTH HAS BECOME MISERABLE I AM SO LEAN AND WEAK THE WIND ALMOST BLOWS ME OVER WHEN I WALK OUT FOR EXERCISE, AND WHEN I EAT, NOTHING GOES TO THE RIGHT PLACE. CREAM SEEMS TO SUIT MY STOMACH BETTER THAN ANY THING, BUT IT IS DOUBTFULL WHETHER I SHALL BE ABLE TO GET IT LONG, FOR YESTERDAY MORNING, AS I WAS STANDING UPON THE KITCHEN HEARTH WONDERING WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT, UP CAME MARY FROM THE CELLAR, SPEAKING OUT SO THAT ALL THAT ALL THE NEIGHBOURS COULD HEAR, "I DONT BELIEVE BUT WHAT THE CAT SKIMS MY MILK, AND I SHALL COVER IT UP." I THOUGHT WHAT WAS COMING AS SOON AS SHE BEGAN, AND RAN UNDER THE TABLE WHERE NO ONE COULD SEE ME BLUSH, AND SAT WASHING MY PAWS SO AS NOT TO SEEM GUILTY.
I WISH YOU WOULD GET ME AN EASY CHAIR IN BOSTON - ONE MADE ON PURPOSE FOR CATS THAT I MIGHT USE IN PEACE. I AM SO OFTEN TIPPED HEADLONG IN A SOUND SLEEP FROM THE GREAT ROCKING CHAIR I SHALL CERTAINLY HAVE MY LIMBS BROKEN IF I OCCUPY IT ANY LONGER. AND AS FOR YOUR LITTLE CHAIR, I AM OBLIGED TO DOUBLE MYSELF UP INTO SUCH A SMALL CIRCLE IN IT, THAT WHEN I TRY TO STRAIGHTEN MYSELF AGAIN, I HAVE DREADFULL SPASMS IN MY BACK.
I HOPE YOU HAVE RECEIVED SOME LOVE IN ONE OF YOUR MOTHER'S LETTERS, SHE ASKED ME WHEN I WOULD LIKE TO SEND SOME LOVE, AND I SAID, "NOW" A PLAINLY AS I COULD, WHICH WAS NOT VERY PLAIN, FOR I CANNOT DO ANYTHING WITH THE PRONUNCIATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. IT IS MORE THAN MOST CATS CAN DO TO PRINT IT SO WELL.I MUST TELL YOU ONE THING MORE. SINCE I TOOK THE CREAM WITHOUT PERMISSION, MARY HAS MADE THREE KETTLES FULL OF THAT DREADFULL STUFF - SUCH AS I FELL INTO MORE THAN A YEAR AGO AND ALMOST LOST MY EYES AND MY HAIR BY IT. YOU CAN JUDGE WHAT MY FEELINGS WERE WHEN I SAW IT BOILING, AND MARY GIVING ME A HARD LOOK EVERY LITTLE WHILE. I RAN OFF TO THE BARN AND STAID TILL THE NEXT MORNING; THERE I SAT MEWING WITH HUNGER AND FEAR, WHEN I HEARD MY KIND MISTRESS'S VOICE CALLING "POOR PUSSY, WHERE ARE YOU" I FOLLOWED HER INTO THE HOUSES AND SHE GAVE ME SOME BREAKFAST. I THOUGHT WHILE EATING IT I WAS NEVER SO HAPPY IN MY LIFE.
YOU MUST NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ME, FOR THOUGH I AM IN PAINFUL SUSPENSE AS TO WHAT MAY BE THE END OF THIS STRANGE OVERTURNING OF EVERYTHING, YET I DO HAVE SOME HAPPY MOMENTS OF PURRING UNDER THE ROSE BUSHES. IF I EVER FIND OUT WHAT IT ALL MEANS I WILL WRITE YOU WORD. BUT MY OPINION IS, THAT YOU HAD BETTER COME HOME VERY SOON, AS I SAID WHEN I FIRST BEGAN THIS LETTER.
UNLESS YOU CONCLUDE TO RETURN IMMEDIATELY YOU MUST WRITE. I WISH VERY MUCH TO RECEIVE A LETTER FROM YOU.
YOUR AFFECTIONATE PUSSY.
I BESEECH YOU NOT TO SHOW THIS UNLESS IT MAY BE TO SOME CAT WHO KNOW LESS THAN I DO.
[In Nathan's handwriting] This was written from Springfield, where your mother stopped on her way to Hartford.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Postmarked: Springfield, Ms, SEP 30
[September 29, 1837] Friday afternoon.
My dear Helen
I presume you will be as glad to morrow night to find a letter from Ma as to see your Youths Companion. I have thought about you and little Ann very often to day, but you have been happier at home than you would have been with me in the Stage for I did not see but two things all the way that would have interested you and those we rode by very rapidly. The first was the Mt. Holyoke Seminary, which you have heard us talk about and the second was the grave of Mr. Tylers little infant. You know that Mr. and Mrs. Bent came to South Hadley to attend its funeral last Saturday while Paulina was at your party. Mrs. Lathrop says it was a very beautiful infant, it is buried very near the road in a little yard front of Mr. Tyler's house and a little willow tree is growing over its grave; every time Mrs. Tyler looks out of her window she can see just where her little babe is buried in the ground and I think it must make her feel very sad.
I reached Springfield this afternoon at 2 o'clock and stopped at Mr. Bliss's. I shall stop at Mrs Lathrop's on my way home, she urged me very kindly to stay with her to-night, but her husband would not be at home tomorrow to secure my passage in the Stage and I thought I had better delay my visit with her till next week. I used to go to school with her and love to be with her just as you love to be with Rebekah and Mary.
You will be a very good girl I hope till I come home and after I get home too - do just as Mrs Smith and Papa tell you - make your little sister happy and be kind to Sarah but not hinder her about her work by talking to her.
Mrs. Lathrop has a fine house and the situation is very pleasant. Mr. Bliss's house makes me think of Grand papa's at Weston, it is very old and the chamber that I am writing you in looks like aunt Maria's. Mrs. Bliss and her daughters received me very kindly - they gave me some dinner and I laid down and slept till after four. - tell Papa not to be anxious about me. I shall be very careful - ask him to write very often and you must ask him to rule the first page for you to write upon with a pencil for a few words from you will please me very much, or you must write in Mrs. Smith's letter. Mrs. Smith will write and put a letter in the office Sunday Evening. It must be directed "to the care of Seth Terry Esq." I shall be very glad to hear that you have been a good girl when I get home. Give Mrs Smith no trouble when she washes you, and keep all the doors shut so that little Ann may not get cold. You must not go to school without armlets on when you wear your short sleeved frock and Ann must wear hers every day. Ann need not go afternoons.
Your affectionate mother. D.W. Fiske
My dear husband
I pained me when I left to see you so full of apprehension about my journey - now that I am fairly off you must look upon the bright side for I love my ride very well, slept well all night without coughing once, am every way comfortably accommodated at Mr. Bliss's. Mr. & Mrs. B are very kind, they are very pious excellent people and very hospitable.
MA LOVES LITTLE ANN DEARLY.
My dear Mrs. Smith
Will you have the kindness to give Mr. Dickinson a bottle to bring you some beef gall in to use in washing my dark calico as I fear the green and pink will fade badly unless some such precaution is taken. Please to see that the poor leeches have fresh water. Send your letter post paid as Mr Terry will get them from the office for me.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Amherst, Mass, To the care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Postmarked: Boston, Ms, JUN 29
[June 29, 1838] Charlestown, Friday Morning.
My dear Helen,
I am very glad to be able to tell you that we had a safe journey yesterday. The weather was so unpleasant and I left you so unwell that I did not enjoy the day very much. The Stage that came down for us was going upon the northern route, which is less pleasant than the Southern, but Mr. Frink said the other Stage leaked and the horses were tired, so I thought we had better not make a change. I saw nothing on the way to tell you about although I looked out hoping I should. We reached Worcester at 3 o'clock. I laid down and slept half an hour, took dinner and started for Boston in the Cars at 4 o'clock. The Cars reached Boston at 1/2 past 6; - when they stopped one of the first faces we saw was uncle Vinal's - he was waiting with a Carriage to take us to Charlestown. We were very glad to see Aunt Vinal and cousin Jane, and they were very glad to see us, - the weather had become pleasant, and I thought if I could only know that you were not sick I should be very happy. I took no cold from riding in the rain and feel much better to-day than I expected to after so long a ride. This morning at 9 o'clock I rode over to Boston with uncle Vinal to find Grand papa; - went to the houses that he is having repaired but he had just gone away; - I left word with a workman that he would find me at Uncle Gideon Vinal's, any time within two hours, - I went there and waited till he came. Grand papa looks very well, he enquired for you all. I shall visit him tomorrow, but stay at uncle Vinal's till next week on Thursday; then aunt Vinal will go to Falmouth, and I shall go to uncle Scholfields or out to Weston. If I go to Falmouth I shall wait and go with Abby Tufts, or Papa or uncle Gideon. Uncle Gideon is very unwell and Papa and uncle Otis are trying to persuade him to go away from home.
I brought your dolls clothes to Charlestown and I shall get you a doll to fit them and bring it home. I left the head that Mrs. Smith wanted for Maria Ninns in the upper short drawer of the Bureau next to the window. I hope you will be a very good girl, and be very careful of your diet; eat no green fruit without permission. You will write to me I hope very often. - Mrs. Smith or Papa will pin the lines to your paper for you, and Papa will mend you a pen. I hope you will sew your patch work very neatly. I shall hope not to see one large deep long stitch upon the whole of it; when you have finished what I prepared you must ask Miss Nelson to please to put the squares together for you. Give my love to Papa - I shall expect a letter from him Tuesday Morning. Mrs. Smith's I shall expect tomorrow morning, and if it tells me that you did not continue sick yesterday I shall feel very much relieved. - give my love to Mrs. Smith and ask her to exchange the small blanket that I have used to put over the top of Ann's Crib for a large one - I meant to have done it before I left home, for the small one falls down upon her and she throws her feet over it and lies uncovered - I did not get a piece of braid for strings to Anns linin night gowns but Mrs. Smith can get a piece of this width. ====== I shall write again soon.
Your affectionate mother
Sarah, I hope is a good girl.MY DEAR ANN,
BE A GOOD GIRL. I THINK OF YOU VERY OFTEN.. I SHALL BUY YOU A LITTLE BOX. YOU MUST LEARN TO READ AND SEW.
FROM YOUR MOTHER.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Amherst, Mass, Postmarked: Waltham, MS, DEC 18
Weston, Dec. 17. 1840.
My Dear Helen,
Your letter I was very much pleased to receive & on reading it I was also greatly pleased. I was eating a good dinner of Aunt Maria's fried fresh fish, when the letter was handed to me by your cousin Alonzo, who now keeps the school to which Abby & the other cousins Henry & Edward go. Somebody had taken the letter from the office & sent it to the school house; so I have obtained it in season. I was just saying to aunt Maria, "now there must be a letter at Weston Post Office for me, it is time to hear from home". My thoughts are very often about you & Ann & Ma, & I have more than a few times said to myself, "now I wish I was there".
I think you will ere long love to write letters, & find much pleasure in composing on topics & themes which your mother may give you. Such exercises will be very useful for you, as they will tend to fix in your memory thoughts which may be awakened, & knowledge which you may derive from books & other sources.
And I will here advise you one thing about your Latin; while I am absent you can review all you have been over, & your Mother will hear you decline all the words, the nouns & the adjectives which you learned; so that when I get back, if God should spare me & you to such time, you may go on more rapidly with what follows, & soon read & parse in a Latin book.
I cannot now think what day it was that I sent my last letter to your mother, but I think the letter was the one you say she received the day she sent a great one to me. Please to tell her that I am greatly obliged to her for it, & wish I could have another as large tonight.
I remained here all last week, - & Saturday gave my final Lecture at Waltham - the room was full - & the ladies & the gentlemen seemed to be interested.
On Sabbath day I attended meeting at Lincoln, although it rained, in the morning very much. You may mention to your Ma that Mr. Newhall preached in the morning & a Mr. Peet in the afternoon. - On Tuesday evening I related gave a Lecture to the Lincoln Lyceum, & related to them the history of what Gen. Harrison did in the last war with England.
I shall give your love to all your friends here, but I think you ought in sending it to mention your grand-papa as well as others, & to mention them by name. Your grand papa is very infirm, & cannot live many years. He is very patient & quiet & spends much time in reading. If you hope to live to old age & be happy then, you must live until then a good & useful life, store your mind with important knowledge, & your imagination not with foolish fancies, but with beautiful pictures of truth & virtue, that if you cannot even read as is often the case, you may be pleasantly occupied with good thoughts & right feelings. -- Now I do not feel so much delighted as you did on reaching the bottom of the third page - but I should not be able, were there room, to write much more, because I must go three miles tonight, in the cold & snow, & bad riding, to carry this to the Post Office.
Very affectionately your
Father. N.W. FiskeHere are a few lines, to Ann & Ma, lest they should feel neglected. - Now, Ann, the book which you call an Alabama is not much of a book - it contains nothing but white paper - neatly put into a neat cover, in which your Ma & Helen & others whom you ask may write something for you. -- And, Ma, Let me soon hear from you, & the concerns at home, & let me have some good advice as to what to do in my emergencies. In my next, which I will despatch as soon as I know my course & departure, I will be more personal in my narrative. -- P.S. Please to inform your Post-Master that he should charge on 10 cents on a letter to Waltham or Weston. On Weston he charges 12 1/2 & on Waltham only 10 - & yet Waltham is 4 miles further from Amherst than Weston.
[In Nathan's writing] The six following letters were written when you were boarding at Deac. Dickinson's in Hadley. Your mother was at Boston visiting her friends. Ann was boarding at Mr. Nelson's. --Addressed: Prof. N.W. Fiske. Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Boston, Ms, SEP 22
[September 22, 1841] Boston, at Grand papa's boarding
house. Wednesday Morning.
My dear Helen,
Which will you have about my journey, the plain truth or a "made up story" for which you and Ann are always so eager?
I hope you will say the plain truth for I've no time to manufacture wonders this morning, and yet am determined to finish something that may be called a letter so as to be sure of hearing very soon from you, of course, now you are Miss Helen Fiske, boarding out in Hadley you will speak when you are spoken to, and write when you are written to or else you will prove yourself quite below your station and honours. If there is a letter already on the way I shall be greatly pleased to receive it, and give you double credit for writing without a letter to answer. I have dreamed about you both nights since I left home, the dreams were too indistinct to be worth telling, but I will tell you what they were not; I did not dream that any of your things were out of place, nor that your cape and collar and ruffle were put away, to work themselves if they would, nor that you were eating too much fruit, nor that your hair looked as if it had been out in a hurricane; nor that your teeth appeared to have given up their acquaintance with charcoal and tooth brushes, nor that your finger nails had all been dipped in the ink bottle - none of these things have I dreamed, and if any of these sights should appear before me in sleep, I shall hope and think when awake that they were nothing but dreams, for I have great confidence that you will take my place in the care of Helen Maria Fiske, and see that she does all the things that I have been in the habit of doing for her, or reminding her of doing, see that you fill the office well, for she is a little girl I love dearly, and would not have her spoiled or neglected for all your scoured money and dollar bill besides. Our journey to Boston was free from accident, but rather fatiguing. At Palmer we were obliged to wait an hour for the Cars, and did not arrive in Boston till 1/2 past 7 o'clock. I saw nothing on the way that would have interested you excepting one thing that would have made you laugh - a stump in a pond of water that looked precisely like an enormous frog with a stick in his mouth. Mrs. Williams was a very pleasant travelling companion, and her little boy was patient and pleasant all the way, although his eyes were so very sore and weak he hardly looked up the whole distance.
I spent yesterday at uncle Scholfield's and uncle Vinal's, and to-night am going with my baggage to uncle Vinals to make my first visit there. Cousin Eunice who used to be so kind to you, and call your mischief accidents, is in Boston, she wishes very much to see you and Ann. Were you out at the gate when the Stage passed our house? only a second before, I was looking out, hoping to have one more look at you, but some one asked me a question, and while I was answering it, we were whirled by, I looked back and had a glimpse of some little figure running back into the house - I thought it was you, and felt really troubled all the way to Belchertown that when you were watching for a bow and a word from mother you should get neither. Remember me affectionately to the Miss Dickinsons, and tell Miss Caroline it was a real disappointment not to have her in Boston with me, for I was calculating upon making her visit to the city more pleasant that it could be among entire strangers. As I know nothing about the Hadley post office I shall direct this to your father; he of course will visit you very soon - if it is only to make a short call; or if (see first page) he is so busy that he cannot do that, he will send it over by mail directed to the care of Deacon Dickinson. You will direct all your letters "Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Boston. To the care of Mr. David Vinal."
My face is less and less troublesome, and I am quite as well in other respects as before I left home. Be very careful not to eat too many apples, eat none when you have the stomach ache, and when you are well, not more than two large ones or three small ones in a day - at different times. And I wish to have you go to bed every night at 1/2 past 7. It is dark early now, and I dont wish to have you use your eyes hardly any by lamp or candle light.
Cousin Ann Hooker is setting by me, and now Grand papa has come in, and Cousin Eunice, and I must bid you good bye - Much love to Papa and Ann to which they will help themselves before you will get your share.
Yr. aff. mother
D.W.V. Fiske.I found a note from Mr. Adams, and if the weather becomes pleasant shall call upon Mrs. Adams tomorrow, in Bowdoin St. where they put up. Yrs. aff. D.W.V. Fiske.
Write often I wish to know how you are and whether you are at Mrs. Moore's.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Hadley. Mass. To the care of Deacon Dickinson. Postmarked: Boston, MS OCT 21
[October 20, 1841] Charlestown, Wednesday Evening
Down in Aunt Vinal's dining room.
My dear Helen,
Since there is no such thing as seeing your very face, and giving you a real kiss, I must make the best of a paper chit-chat, and we may well be contented with this mode of communication, for when people dont write stiff primmed up letters, how much it is like a real talk; such a talk, I was delighted to have from you this forenoon, and you will please to take notice that you have immediate attention in return just such as the Governor himself would have, should his highness send me letters - what do you suppose can be the reason he does not write? as it does not worry me any, you need not puzzle your brains, trying to imagine, but read right along for a particular account of my own dear self and the north east storms. The "pitiful supply of news" in my last letter written last Wednesday, no Tuesday I believe, was written in the greatest drive you ever saw, for you know how it happened sometimes at our house every body happens in together, it is much more so at uncle Vinals, and that afternoon the door bell was ringing half the time, and in order to say a word to you I absolutely ran off up stairs, and then Cousin Martha, ran off to carry your letter to the office. Cousin Ann Scholfield came over that day and we had delightful visit from her, she staid all night and slept with me, her health is very much better than when she was at Amherst, she has no severe turns of pain and she is much more fleshy than when you saw her. Cousin Adeline and Ellen are also well, and their brothers too. Isaac, whom you must remember, is as full of anecdotes as ever, and he tells a great many entertaining stories about people & things he saw in Europe. Uncle Scholfield has given up business, and is sitting down at home to spend his old age in quietness with six children about him watching to do everything that can be thought of for his happiness. Your grandpapa is very well and I see him very often, he spends his evenings where I am, and I have dined and taken tea with him several times. I wish you would write a part of your next letter to him, for if you are glad to have your mother taken charming good care of, you are under great obligation to him for his constant and kind attentions, try to write very plain, because he is not accustomed to your hand. Should the weather be pleasant we intend to go to Newburyport next Monday to stay two or three days, last week we thought of going this, but the storms are so frequent I have no visits excepting at uncle Gideon Vinal's, uncle Scholfield's, and uncle Otis's. Last Thursday I went over to Boston and staid with Cousin Ann til Monday afternoon. On the Sabbath I went to church three times, in the morning to hear Mr. Winslow cousin Martha's former minister, in the afternoon Mr. Cushman, a Baptist, cousin Mary Vinal's pastor, and in the evening to hear a Mr. Stearns of Cambridge port (a forty-fifth cousin of yours), at Park St. Church in behalf of the fatherless and widows society, his description of the sufferings of poor children made me feel more grateful than ever for being able to supply all your wants and Ann's.
Last Saturday, grand papa went with me to consult Dr. Jackson, an old & distinguished physician in pulmonary difficulties, he gave me no encouragement that my voice can be restored, but recommended bathing my neck very thoroughly three times a day in the coldest water gargling very cold water frequently; and taking three times a day a tonic he prepared. I feel much better than when I left home, at uncle Scholfields they say I look better; and at uncle Vinal's that a talk better, so here, are two betters, I cough less, but my voice is about the same, but it is not a very serious inconvenience, I am accustomed to it, beside which makes it seem less than at first, and if my life can only be prolonged, with health enough to take care of you and Ann, I feel no anxious desire for anything more; it is only occasionally that I suffer much, and it is so delightful to take a long breath again, and have the tartar sores heal up after an ill turn, I really believe I enjoy more, take a year together, than those who are so uniformly well as to think nothing about it.
As to your invitation to visit Boston, aunt Vinal will be glad to have you come whenever your father and I think best, and I shall be in favour of it the first good opportunity, not before Spring probably, you would be more of a care in cold weather, and you could not go about, and see as many new things as at some other season of the year. And does sit not seem to you as if home would seem pleasant again I really calculate upon sitting down with you the coming winter, we will read some books together. I intended to get at Stepens' last travels in Central America. Grand papa says perhaps he will buy them. You recollect how heartily aunt Vinal laughs sometimes, well, she laughed just as you have seen her, at the idea of having you embalm her letters in rose-leaves, and says the very first letter she writes to anybody shall be to you.
Do you remember Mr. Keith who was at our house when Cousin Martha and Caroline were with us, a student from Williamstown? he is at uncle Vinal's now; and I presume will stay a week or more; a fortnight ago, on his way to New York he was badly injured by a rail road accident, it occurred near Westfield, two trains dashed against each other coming very rapidly in opposite directions, and some of the Cars were smashed into a heap of ruins with the passengers in them. Mr. Keith was instantly stunned, knew nothing till he found himself laid upon a bank by the side of the road, and was roused by the shrieks of a poor man with both legs broken; his chest, back and one arm are very lame, and I should not be surprised if he were to suffer from the injury a whole year, and it is very aggravating to think that such suffering and loss of life (two or three have died) should be occasioned by careless mis-management of those whose business it is to see that Cars do not come in contact with each other upon the same route.
Give my love to Mr. Smith's family when you see them again. Are you not glad our Sarah has gone home? her mother must be rejoiced to see her after five years separation, and I presume Sarah will feel happier for having been.
The word you could not read in Cousin Ann's letter was tabourays, tabourays are low elegant seats, covered with velvet and ornamented with needle work trimmed with costly fringe, but upon which Discontent as often sits down as upon the plainest cricket. For a week we have been hearing about a superb house in Boston just completed and finished for a wealthy Mr. Phillips just returned from Europe, the house cost 90,000 dollars, and the furniture I don't dare say how much, but almost everything is mahogany, marble and silver, he has a library too containing thousands of volumes, all the rare books that could be found, I dare say you think "how happy I should be in his place" but Helen, remember, that happiness depends upon ourselves, not upon our abundance of things; this Mr. Phillips has the blues shockingly.
I am sorry to hear of so much sickness in Mr. Danforth's family, it is not strange that Mrs. Danforth was worn out by it, I thought her a very amiable, and very good woman, and if she was really prepared to die, after such a life of toil and anxiety how delightful it must be to her to find herself at rest forever beyond the reach of sickness and sorrow, and not only that, but in Heaven, in the society of holy angels and departed saints and with God himself. You ask if I think Mr. Danforth has much feeling - I think he may have much more than you give him credit for; I do not like a loud boisterous manner any better than you, it is like a dreadful discord upon the piano, but it won't do to charge such people with having no feelings, it is being uncharitable, just call it strange, if you must speak, and let it go; we need the charity of others towards our faults, so we must show it to others.
Thursday Morning. Aunt Tufts and Cousin Caroline came in last evening so that I did not quite finish your letter (you wont be disappointed by the length of this). Remember to tell me whether you can read my crossed writing without difficulty, for if it troubles you I will write upon long sheets. If your poorest every-day calico seems too thin and faded for this winter weather you may your wear your french in exchange with the one that has a cape. I never want my chickens shivering about in the cold. I intended to write a good part of this letter to "aunt Harriet", but you with your plump face & well remembered look seemed to be right before me, and how could I help talking and talking to my own children? Be sure to persevere in writing just as you have done, for if I dont think you and Anna and Papa are well - that is the end of enjoying anything else, till a good letter comes to scatter my pens. - You and Papa have written so often I have had no anxiety so far. Continue to be a good girl, I need not specify particulars. Uncle Vinal is almost ready to cary me over to Boston so good morning. Much love and many thanks to the young ladies, your new aunts, from your affectionate mother.
Direct your letters as usual, I shall be back from Newbury port to receive it. Cousin Ann thanks you for your letter and sends love. Cousin Martha too, Ann will write soon, she says uncle Sam, or uncle Somebody got your slip of paper it was not in the letter. Oh! I wish you a very happy new year; may it be the very best you have lived. I must learn to say "My oldest daughter is eleven."
I wrote to your Papa last friday, and expect to hear tomorrow.Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Hadley. Mass. To the care of Deacon Dickinson. Postmarked: Charlestown, Ms, OCT 12
 Wednesday, October 6.
My dear cousin Helen.
I do want to know if you have seen the snow in Hadley? For we have had a fire ever since last Friday in Aunt's chamber. It looks very comfortable indeed. Aunt Fiske & I sleep together & we can look right out of the window while we are in bed. The first word for five days has been, "Oh, dear! it's stormy."
Aunt Fiske & I went over to the fair on Thursday. We wished very much that you were there. There was a mammoth peppermint there about as large as a common side table & as thick as a small book. There were some papers printed there called "the fly merchant." They were very amusing papers indeed. One of the anecdotes was this "Do you see anything ridiculous in this wig?" said one of his brother judges to Curran. "Nothing but the head," was the reply. There was a mammoth cake at the fair weighing about 4000 pounds! There were numerous gold watches, rings, bracelets & jewelry of all descriptions. There were a great many ottomans & tabourays - sofas, & chairs of black velvet & crimson velvet. The crimson velvet ones were elegantly worked with crewel & floss silk. The black velvets were splendidly painted - Flowers & landscapes. A black velvet sofa with three beautiful wreaths of roses & other gay flowers on the seat; there was a good deal of rug work there too. One thing I must not forget to tell you. There was a rug with three million of stitches in it. The design has "the cats that went to law, to Chief Justice monkey." It was very pretty indeed, & was done very neatly.
Thursday, 7th. Aunt Fiske has gone over to Boston to day with Mrs. Rogers & Miss Rachel Rogers. Miss Rachel is a very pleasant young lady. She made a very pretty blue bonnet for me & was going to make a green one for little Anne, but as she went today it was not convenient. I am hooking a ruffle for a nightcap the same pattern as yours, a puff & ruffle, I love to do it dearly.
In that last letter you wrote me, you forgot to answer my question. As I should like to know if you can answer it I will write it again. "Methuselah was the oldest man in the world but he died before his father - how can that be?" Can you answer the riddle --
"Pray tell us if you possibly can
Who is this highly favored man,
Who though he has married many a wife
May be a bachelor all his life."
As this is a very common one I doubt not but that you will guess it immediately, but I thought I would try at least to repay you as much as I could for your kindness in giving me so many puns & riddles to guess, I have not as good a tact at making puns as you have. I should like as many more as you have already sent me if you want to. There is a conundrum which I have been trying to find out this long time & cannot. Perhaps you can, so I will tell you what it is. "Why is a man, who has nothing to boast of but his ancestors, like a potato?" The idea of a man's being like a potato (if I leave out all but, "Why is a man like a 'tater,") I think it is ridiculous, unless the answer is "They both live & they both die," but I guess you can find it out.
I did not mean to fill up my letter with riddles for I suppose I have not told you any thing that is interesting (excepting the fair). I have written a good deal now for me & so I will beg to be excused for a little.
Thursday afternoon. I have a little space to write longer & a few words more to say. Are not you glad you are going to take music lessons. I am very fond of playing indeed & I know you will like it. Mr. Francis Hunter instructions & I am very glad. This is my fifth quarter. It took me 3 quarters steady to go through my instruction book.
Aunt & Martha send much love - Please to answer my letter soon.
from your affectionate cousin
Anne E. Hooker
[October 12, 1841] Charlestown, Tuesday afternoon, In cousin Martha's chamber.
My dear Helen,
I must congratulate you upon having got fairly by the dreadful stump, over against which so many poor little damsels sit down in silent despair. I mean, you have found something to say, and say it with so much ease, you were evidently not shut up for hours to do it or thrown into any kind of mental agony. I contemplated your long full sheet with as much delight as a miser would feel at a basket of gold, and I ran with it into Cousin Nathaniel's store, and asked him for a chair that I might sit down and take the comfort of reading it, and comfort I did take, in that you were so happy, and in learning from your good Aunt Harriet that you were doing so well. I trust you will continue to improve; make it the aim of every day to do just as well as you can. Think every morning, "Now I will see how well I can behave to-day." You are very fortunate to be in such a family, and I shall always feel under obligation to the young ladies for their kindness - they must have a high place always upon our list of friends, being the first persons with whom you were entrusted away from us. I shall try to write "Aunt Harriet" in the course of a week, and am sorry not to send you more of a letter now, but Aunt Rachel and her daughter have been with me here at Uncle Gideon's ever since my last letter, and as they are strangers, I have felt desirous to do all in my power to make their visit pleasant, and couldn't well go away to write letters. They will return to Marshfield tomorrow, and I will send you a piece of a journal in my next to let you see how my time goes. Uncle Vinal is nearly well again. Grandpapa, Aunt Vinal, Cousin Martha & Cousin Ann Scholfield are well.
How do your drawers hold out? I have almost wished I had furnished with new ones, for fear they would keep tearing out and trouble you, and the young ladies too, unless you could mend them alone.
Aunt Vinal has just popped in and tells me to give her best love to her "little tot of a Helen", & she insists upon a visit from you next winter, and if I find you do so well away from home I shall be quite inclined to let you accept her invitation.
Your affectionate mother,
I know you will write every week, I depend so much upon hearing from you. I will send directly to Hadley and if I send you papers, or little books keep an account of the postage, or pay it, and I will pay you; - see that it is not charged to Mr. Dickinson. Write some to Ann in my next letter in answer to hers.
I wish you to put your letters in the office earlier in the week so that they will reach Boston Friday night, then I can have them Saturdays, I don't like to think upon the Sabbath - there's a letter from Helen in the Post Office.
Cousin Martha is waiting to take this to the office. If it is difficult for you to read Cousin Ann Hooker's letter ask Aunt Harriet to help you. Ann writes very fast. I was much pleased with the legibility and neatness of your letter. I would like to have you make the looped letters rather longer like this handsomely -
Give Anna six kisses and three hugs for Ma when you see her. Love to the young ladies and tell Miss Harriet "I thank her very much" as Ann says for her note.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, at Deac. Dickinson's Hadley Postmarked: Amherst, MS, OCT 28
[October 28, 1841] Amherst, Thursday afternoon.
My Dear Daughter,
I thank you very sincerely for your letter today received; it has given me great pleasure, & as I probably shall not be able to visit Hadley this week, I take a few minutes at Mr. Adams's store to send you an answer. As you had such an affecting scene to impress your mind & lead you to write chiefly what was proper to write at such a time, I shall not reprove you for writing on the Sabbath this time. But you must realize, my dear Helen, that it is not proper to write common letters of business, friendship, or worldly knowledge, on that holy day; to do so is not to remember the Sabbath according to the spirit of God's command, nor as the true christian endeavors to keep it. All writing, reading, & conversation should be, on that day, such as is calculated to foster the love & fear of God, & devotedness to the Saviour. I hope the affecting event of Mr. Smith's sudden & distressing attack while preaching will not be forgotten by you; it should teach you how suddenly your father or mother or yourself or Sister Ann or any other friend may be seized & hurried away by death; & that everyone's first duty & business is to be prepared for death by a sincere embracing of Christ.
My dear Child, you are old enough, & received instruction enough, to enable you to understand what your Father in Heaven requires of you; & you know that your Parents desire of you & for you nothing so much as that you should be a good child; many younger than yourself, who have had smaller privileges than you, have yet manifested an intelligent piety, showing that they loved & obeyed the Saviour & were living for heaven. Your attention to your studies & your improvement in manners & behaviour gives us great pleasure, & I know you will wish to make your mother more & more happy.
I hope you will write to Grandpapa. You can write what will interest him, if you try. Be careful as to the spelling, & especially as to the punctuation; see that every place has the right pointing; a letter without this care will appear very bad.
Mrs. Moore would be glad to have you come & spend a day, & if I can I will ride to Hadley some time next week, & bring you over. I had a letter last night from Ma; she sends a message to you, wishing you to continue to write to her as you have done, & saying that she could not write to you just yet, but would soon.
Ann is now very well & sends her love & says your letter to her was indeed a little one. Give my best respects to all the members of the family; & let me hope that you will be very careful not to make them any trouble, comply at once with every wish of the young ladies, & while you are diligent in study, strive to do something to help them.
From your affectionate father
N.W. Fiske.P.S. I have seen Rebecca, & she says she has written a letter for you, & will send it.
Addressed: Miss Maria Helen Fiske, at Deac. Dickenson's Hadley Postmarked: Amherst, MS NOV 11
[Wednesday] Amherst, Nov. 10, 1841.
My dear Daughter,
I am very sorry you have been unwell, & hope you will not suffer any more. You will do just as Miss Dickinson directs as to your food, & as to medicine. I am unable to come over to see you today; I did intend to do so, but I could not finish my necessary business. I do not see how I can tomorrow. If I can on Saturday, I will; but next week, you know your Ma will return, & you will then come to Amherst to stay. Ann is well & wants to see you. Mrs. Moore would be pleased to have you spend a night with her. Study your lessons well, & keep a quiet mind, & if you would like it, write me again, for your letters please me very much.
Say to the Miss Dickinsons, their father & brother, that Pa sends his respects to them all.
Your affectionate father
P.S. I write these few lines, having just received your letter, immediately, in order that you may hear from me tomorrow. I can write no more now because the mail soon goes out.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Hadley. Mass. To the care of Deacon Dickinson. Postmarked: Boston, MS NOV 4
[November 3, 1841] Charlestown, at Uncle Otis Vinal's.
in cousin Martha's chamber;
My dear Helen,
The very first thing last Friday noon after arriving in Boston from Newburyport was to find out whether there were any letters in the post office from Amherst and Hadley; and to be sure there were two, one from Papa and one from you; - I hardly winked till I had read them both, and had any one spoken to me, they would have guessed that woman deaf. I cannot describe the satisfaction it gives me to hear that you are doing well at Mr. Dickinson's (Papa stated that in his letter) and from yours I am glad to see that you appreciate the kindness of the young ladies. I am sure you had no reason to expect they would interest themselves so much in your happiness. Give my love to them all, and continue to do just as well as you know how, for this is the only way you can repay them - money only pays for board and work; "love and love only is the loan of love."
You ask when I am coming home - I can tell you more definitely when I have heard from your father again, my plan is to be getting ready for a start toward the West, after next week. I go to Woburn to see Mrs. Bennett tomorrow morning and shall return Saturday (that is if the weather should be pleasant) and next Monday go out to Weston and stay till Thursday night. I wish I could make your Aunt Maria a longer visit, but the truth is I have found myself among so many, aunts and cousins and old school mates and north east storms, that rides in the country have been out of the question. I have enjoyed every minute of my visit, and feel ten years younger than when I left home; my cheeks don't "stand out with fatness" but I am stronger, and trip off here and there these pleasant days feeling as light as a cork. And as for borrowing trouble I don't do that, and must laugh at you for your prognostications about Sarah you see they were all lost where she is at the Judge's and there you are perfectly blank, just as if you had stood up in the new town-house and prophecied rain, and the sun kept shining so brightly you could scarcely see - isn't it an awkward attitude? Now remember, always hope for the best, and defer your predictions of evil till after it comes, then if you wish to seem very wise, and had really feared it you can say "it is exactly as I thought. I knew it would be so!"
Aunt and Martha and Ann would all send their love to you if they were present, and Ann intends to write soon, but she is pretty busy now making visits in Boston, getting music bound etc. etc. preparatory to going home. You will love Ann dearly, I shall try hard to have her visit you or you her, for I wish to have you grow up as own cousins and always be friends. Yesterday afternoon I took tea with Mrs. Warren (your father's Aunt) in the evening Miss Mira and Miss Caroline Fiske came in, two very pretty young ladies, 16 and 18 years old (cousins of yours) - Granddaughters of Mr. Fiske of Cambridge, their mother came in also, she lives close by Mrs. Warren's, she is a very pleasant woman, and said I must let my children come and see hers when they came to Charlestown.
I have bought a lace for your collar. How much work have you done. My love to your papa when you see him. Direct letters to me just as you have done, to grandpapa's care. Write every week. I spend today at Uncle Tuft's with Aunt Tufts and cousin Caroline, Cousin Abby you know is married and keeps house.
I went out to Cambridgeport last Friday afternoon and staid till Saturday night - Cousin Albert's wife says you must come and see her and Ann too. Sunday I spent at Uncle Gideon's, Monday at uncle Scholfield's and came over here Monday night.Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske at Deac. Dickenson's Hadley Postmarked: Amherst, MS NOV 15
Nov. 15, 1841.My Dear Child,
I enclose a letter from your mother, which came on Saturday last. The time of her return is now so near at hand that it does not seem best that you should come to Amherst until she arrives. I expect her on Friday, & we shall send for you on Saturday. Ann sends her love, & wishes to see you very much.
I hope you are very grateful to the young ladies who have been so kind to you these many weeks, & that you are very diligent in improving your time.
I intended to take Ann over to see you last week, but unavoidable circumstances hindered it.
Your affectionate father N.W. Fiske
The letters which follow, until the date May 1843 were written while you were at Aunt Vinal's at Charlestown attending school. -- All after that date were written while you were at Pittsfield.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Charlestown, MS SEP 15
[September 15, 1842] Charlestown, Thursday, September.
My dear Mother,
We arrived at Boston Saturday night; almost the first face we saw was grandpapa's; we were glad enough to get to Aunt Vinal's, and to bed. (at least I was). Just as we were going into Boston as I turned around to show cousin Martha something a cinder flew into my eye, it was so sore Sunday I could not go out. Monday it was better Tuesday I went over to Uncle Scholfield's and Adeline took it out it was not so big as the head of a small pin but very rough indeed. Monday night Sarah, May, and myself walked over behind Medford Hill to see the indians. I wished very much Ann was there. There were four tents in one of them was a woman with a little baby or papoose there were two long strings tied from one end of the tent to the other so loose that they hung down to a slope in the middle there were some old blankets and rags thrown over them and for a pillow a piece of board was nailed across the strings and this was the little baby's cradle. When they want to put their children to sleep they toss them into this hammock and the weight of the child keeps the cradle in motion. They were all as busy as bees making baskets I had no money with me or I would have bought Ann one some of them were very handsome they were dressed very curiously the women had a thing that looked very much like loose gowns except they were not confined about the waist some had on a sort cloak of calico the men were dressed in pantaloons and jackets. When we were coming home we met four Indian women that had been out to sell their baskets all dressed in their best all with men's hats on one woman had on a sort of habit of blue woollen cloth the whole front of her waist was covered with little tin plates larger than a half dollar with a little hole in the middle and a very gay handkerchiefs around her neck. Another had on a calico dress very light and three large tin plates in a line from her neck down to the end of her waist. The third was dressed in a yellow dress with a red handkerchief about her neck and a great deal of red about her person the dress of the other one I do not remember. This description is for Ann I suppose you are not much interested in it.
Tell Ann I have bought her a set of villages and trees cattle and a man and woman but I could find none with fences I could not find a pretty set of pewter cups and saucer they had none with plates but I have bought what I think she will like as well. Tell her all the foregoing I'll tell you what it is is it is a darling little set of glass cups and saucers you know she has a set of wooden ones to play with and these are only to look at and to show. They are very small the cups are only so large round the top.... and so large at the bottom ...... saucers are so large there are beautiful rose painted on them. These are not the correct dimensions of them there is one teapot a cream not with tops to come off and a sugar bowl four cups and saucers and four glass spoons! The handle of the spoons is not but a dreadfull little smaller than a pin they are (in short) the prettiest things I ever saw of the kind. Don't tell her what it is or anything abut it. I want to surprise her. This must be very interesting to you the next letter shall be better.
Tuesday morning Uncle Vinal carried me over to Uncle Scholfields and left me there till he called and carried me home as he went home to dinner I had a very pleasant time as you may judge when I tell you that the young ladies being busy with Adeline let me sit in the library. Yesterday I went over to Uncle Gideon's and staid the same time I should think they were pretty busy for I sat alone in Deborah's playroom almost all the time but her books were there and I had a pretty good time. Yesterday Sarah and I walked over to Boston went way up into Washington Street where I got Ann's things. I wish I had some larger paper this ain't half large enough. You don't how much prettier Sarah Hooker is than when she was here before and ain't it funny she says I'm as much pleasanter than I was then as can be if she wasn't here I should be so lonely I could not stay. She says she cried when she found I was coming and you know I could not bear the thought of living here with her. I like her real well. I shall begin to go school next week I don't where. How does May get along? I was so homesick Monday afternoon that I came off upstairs and cried like everything Cousin Martha came up and found me crying it is wearing off now. A great deal of love to Pa and Ann and yourself also to any of the girls you may see
yr affectionate daughter
helen M. Fiske
P.S. Don't tell her what it is that I have bought her instead of the pewter cups.
Aunt Vinal sends her best love and says your daughter makes her very happy. I however would not swear to the truth of the assertion.
How would it do for me to buy me some paper larger than this? I got me a thimble at Davis and Palmers and got my initials put on it it is real silver
Dont let anybody see this letter
You wont care a bit for this letter.
My dear Deborah, Helen proposed writing to you this morning, and as she had not written at all, and I knew you would be glad to hear I did not discourage it. Since I last wrote you, I have enquired more particularly about schools, our friends advise to have Helen go to Miss Austin, she has about fourteen or fifteen scholars, most of them older than Helen. She is a thorough teacher and ladylike in deportment and manners. Two or three young ladies members of our church attend her school, and they say she has no sectarian influence over her pupils. At the seminary she would be introduced to rather a different class of girls, the instruction there I think may be good - but they are sectarian and the influence would be decidedly for the Baptist denomination. You will decide between the two, but at either school, I hope she would make improvement. Helen has been a very good girl, in every respect she consults our wishes and happiness. I was not at all surprised at her being homesick Monday afternoon, I like to see an attachment to home, and it is a great change for such a child as she is. But since then she has appeared perfectly cheerful and happy. I am very glad that she and Sarah take such a liking to each other, it is pleasanter for them both to have the other here.
I hope you will write to Helen often, she almost hoped to have a letter today - although I told her it was rather soon to have one. When I gave those stockings that you sent to Mary, she seemed very much pleased, and said tell Mrs. Fiske I am very thankful to her. You will I presume decide soon with regard to Helen's school, and let us know. Much love from Aunt. Love to Annie
aff yours M.B. Vinal.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Boston. To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal. Postmarked: Amherst MS, SEP 10
[September 5, 1842] Monday Evening.
In the nursery, at my desk upon the stand, Ann in bed working away upon the upper sheet so as to have it perfectly smooth over her young ladyship, Papa in the sitting room puzzling over a letter from some Greek editor in Smyrna who publishes extracts from the manual in his periodical and our good respectable Mary just gone to bed, your plants living upon air and water there upon the boxes wondering perhaps if they are to live out in that old "new building". Your rose blown out just as far as it can, - as dashy as the Pelham pink silk bonnets a look that always indicates some grace wanting, or going, your rose will be faded by tomorrow, but you have a very pretty honey suckle in your garden, so fragrant I saluted it tonight after the manner of the Sandwich Islanders. All this is the state of things now, but perhaps you would like to be enlightened as to Saturday and Sunday, well Saturday morning, after watching you nearly up the hill I scampered into the house to see if there was anything to do, noticed that it wouldn't hurt either the parlour or sitting room to be swept, put both into a good condition, and then took a peep into the nursery which looked as if robbers had just pillaged it of everything but odds and ends, knew it would take so much time to regulate matters in such a place, the job must be deferred while I should "lead Mary into knowledge" as to making some bread put in progress the night previous; she did very well for one unaccustomed to kneading dough; and she is so respectful and pleasant that her ignorance of kitchen work seems but a small deficiency.
Before this time you have probably missed what I found on clearing up the nursery, I am sure I hope you have missed your tooth brush and bought another. The pantalets you took off were upon the floor, and your Chinese puzzle book upon one of the Bureau's under some papers, and your "Crouches" upon the nursery closet shelf looking as if it had never entered their toes that they were to go to Boston. I am surprised that I did not think of them, but for being so "driv" and sort of feeble I should not have forgotten them; if you need them before I get an opportunity to send them to you, ask Cousin Martha to be so kind as to get you a pair if your money holds out; and if it does not, we will pay up by Grandpa's return, or when your father comes to Charlestown.
Saturday afternoon nothing special happened excepting that I walked out in the garden and picked up more than a basket full of those large striped apples. Dr. Humphrey called and staid sometime he said Edward Vernon had been quite sick with sore throat and fever just as you and Ann were, but was getting better Jane Hitchcock and Lavinia Dickinson called for Ann to go and make some calls with them because they thought she would feel lonely now you were gone, the young ladies called at Mr. Vaill's, Mrs. Washburn's, Mrs. Menill's (where Lavinia boards now while her mother is in Boston) and at old Mrs. Montague's. Mrs. Montague is Lavinia's Aunt. Ann got home about five quite gratified with the honor and novelty of making calls like grown up ladies. From six to eight o'clock I could not think of anything but you and Cousin Martha, you were so near Boston, or at the depo, or just arrived, at Uncle Vinal's. If you had such weather as we had, you could not have wished for a finer day for your journey -it was so cool and clear, and Sunday morning when we got up and found it a rainy stormy day, I could not but pronounce the equinoctial very obliging to hold up Saturday, we had a fire in the stove in the sitting room and gathered round it a if Winter had come. I had a "grumbling tooth ache" which Anna advised me to cure by stinging out the pain with peppermint, but my remedy was a warm sound nap in bed, and by night I was quite comfortable again. This morning the weather was very pleasant again and so warm I have been obliged to take off my flannels to be able to go about or breathe. Mary has been washing, I did the work this forenoon with Ann's help she seems to feel great responsibility resting upon her because you are gone, and I can assure, my dear Helen, I do miss you, and your work about house very much, you save me a great many steps, and as for the dishes you have washed they would load a ship, but I am looking forward to better days as to housework, if Mary is what she seems to be I shall get along very comfortably; she is so willing to sweep and do anything, that with her help I can do the cooking. Mr. Slater called to see her Saturday, she told him she was "quite contented and not at all discouraged". Mary wished to know Saturday night if that young lady, Miss Martha, had her health well. I told her no, she had the tic-do-lo-ro, she replied - oh dear, poor thing, I do pity her then, my mistress had the same. Mary thought you would be homesick away at school, I told her you would be with Miss Martha and the aunt that brought me up, "indaad" said she, "then I doon't pity her at all, not atall."
Jane has been in tonight and taken what flowers she wanted as you said she might; and Ann has begun to press flowers "just as Helen did" and this afternoon has been down in Mr. Cooley's lot in search of some, and they are in books upstairs. Katherine Baker went with her, returned to our house, and took a ride with us down to mill and some distance towards Mr. Smith's. I really enjoyed getting out again and mean to ride often and pick up my crumbs, and not be so lean when you come home. Ann says she can't touch me without knocking bones, and if I only stood still when she hits them I should hear them rattle.
For fear I might forget to attend to your new plants in the new building I have brought down the cabinet from the study chamber and placed a waiter upon it, and sat it before the window in the wash room and put your plants on it today. I washed all the pots and showered the leaves so that they look quite green and pretty.Tuesday afternoon. [September 6]
My dear Martha,
I've just sent up for your letter, and I am glad enough to cry if it would not be silly but silly or not, I shall, if I don't stop thinking of your kindness, Aunt's and all to Helen. There is no place in the world where I can feel so easy about her as at your house. I have not a particle of anxiety only to have her a good girl, and make as little work as possible; because it is my old home and I know just how everything is. If she was anywhere else I don't believe I could stand it, it would seem just as if she was tossing about upon the waves of the ocean and I should be sailing about after her every night in my sleep. By the way I must tell you my dream Saturday night - Mrs. Nelson asked me if I knew whether it was Mr. Fiske's opinion that clams could be mesmerized. I told I did not know what he thought, but my opinion was they could because they didn't know enough to resist the mesmeric influence. I ought to have dreamed that you were present, and boxed my ears, but telling you about it, and giving you permission will do as well, indeed I wish you were hereabout it now, for then I could (see near the water) turn around and see your face, and make you stay to tea, and give you some nice stewed peach, and have a good sit down afterwards. Martha, I do believe some sitting down days are at hand; though the shoes are still new in which my last clever seeming help walked off. I cannot believe but Mary will prove a prize; Kitchen work has been no more her business than yours or mine, but she takes right hold and does her best, she washes dishes, sweeps, washes and irons well and looks so neat and is so "accomplished" that is, has such good manners, such a sense of propriety that I cannot believe her an imposter.
Wednesday afternoon. [September 7]
I am very sorry I did not let you take my veil, if the cinders had ever troubled me I should have thought of it, but I presume your eye is well by this time. If you are sick at any time you must tell Aunt Vinal or Martha just as you would me and down with the salts if necessary, as quick and resolutely as you kill "old mosquitos".
If Aunt Vinal is well, and not too busy, tell her how glad I shall be of a few lines from her in your letter, and specially for a whole letter by herself. Ann would send love if she was in the house; she asked yesterday how many more days you would be gone. Mary asked today if I did hear from Helen - I told, when your letter came, and that you had arrived safe and that your grandpapa was at the depo, she replied, "ah, and I am glad, and that was very nice."
Look out for Aunt Vinal's and Cousin Martha's headaches, and go down stairs as light as a feather.
Much love to Uncle and Aunt Vinal.
Write very soon, a good long, definite letter; and ask Cousin Martha if she will be so kind as to send me a thread measure of your length round the neck of your muslin de laine so that I can send you one or two more tuckers. Cousin Martha will write with you I hope, and she must tell me how she does, whether she has pain in her face, and all about her health; she did not say one word in her letter,
Much love to Cousin Sarah Hooker.
I am rejoiced to hear, my dear Helen, that you were no trouble to Cousin Martha on the way and that you are a good girl. I hope she will be able to say it of you in every letter for nothing makes me so happy as to have you and Ann behave well.
I wish to have you very careful, not to use your eyes much evenings, as you remember that it takes but little to make them weak and inflammed.
Your Papa and I think you had better go to the Seminary, instead of Miss Austin's.
yr. affectionate mother
Aunt Vinal will tell you what to do evenings and you will go to bed just as early as she thinks best. I feel better than when you left, not so weak and considerably rested, and brighter, tho nobody would think it from this long, roundabout letter about nothing. Your Papa sends love to you, and all the folks, and says this is all the special message he has.
Addressed: Miss Martha B. Vinal, Boston. To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal. Postmarked: Amherst, MS SEP 11
[September 10, 1842]
My dear Helen
Dont let anybody see this.
You wont care a bit for this letter; there now I have made two mistakes How hard it to write a letter I will finish it off now
Your sister Ann S Fiske
[September 11] Saturday morning. Before breakfast.
My dear Helen,
Ann would have said your affectionate sister but affectionate was such a dreadful word to write she said she "would not have put it in." I was very glad of your letter. You may get you half a quire of larger paper sometime when you are out with Martha, but don't buy it alone, as you have never purchased any you might get such as it would trouble you to write upon very much. I wish you would keep a letter begun and add whatever you think would interest me just after it has happened. Let your next be a journal (only a part of it if you prefer) letter, and let me have it by next Saturday. Your secret about Ann's glass cups is out but you need not care for the anticipation will be worth more to Ann that the surprise. I read right along loud it was a matter of such interest to her, as well as to me. When you write secrets again give warning beforehand, instead of after you have written it, then I'll look out and be seized with a fit of coughing like the woman in the Temperance Tales.
Did you not see Cousin Deborah when you called at Aunt Gideon's Vinal's?
I shall write to Cousin Ellen Scholfield today. Is Cousin Adeline quite unwell? Does Cousin Martha seem better than she did at our house after she had the sore throat?
How long will Cousin Sarah Hooker stay at Aunt Vinal's? I am very glad you love her so much - how fortunate you met again to let each other see that you are pretty good girls in spite of old impressions to the contrary.
I shall send your things by the very first opportunity I can hear of.
Mary is better, will be able to work some today I presume, though she is not up yet, but the fire is cooking the breakfast, and it is about done, and your Papa has just come with both hands full of peaches so good morning.
yr. affectionate mother,
Answer these questions when you write.
[September 10] Friday Evening.
My dear Martha,
It was as if the sun shone right out this rainy afternoon when "Janey" bolted in at the north door with her bonnet under her arm to keep from wetting it, and a letter from mailed at Charlestown which she guessed was from Helen. You may be sure I read it straight through in all directions, and only wished it written over in twice as many ways. I am greatly obliged to you for all the pains you have taken in relation to a school for Helen, and what you and others think of Miss Austin leads me to prefer her school to the Seminary, her number of pupils being small she can give special to each, and the influence of such misses as attend would undoubtedly be happier over Helen than that of the scores of girls at the Seminary; Mr. Fiske is rather in doubt which is best, but tells me to do as I prefer about it, so I prefer to write to-night to prevent you from getting into a box with Dr. Bellows, from which it would be awkward to get out. You or Aunt will have the kindness to tell Miss Austin about Helen that she need not expect too much of her; if Miss Austin teaches drawing and painting Helen may take lessons for the amusement as well as the advantage. I hope Helen will take hold and study well, it frightens me to think how soon she will be in her teens and how rapidly the years for going to school will slip away. What you say as to Helen's behaviour is a greater gratification than I can describe, and I hope she will continue to do well. You will not be troubled I trust by seeing that Helen is a little homesick, it is perfectly natural for a child that cares anything about home, let them be in a place ever so much better. I am very glad Helen is so much pleased with Sarah it has always been my wish that Martha's children and mine should be friends.
Here ends the remarks about "the part of myself" at your house and now please to attend to what follows for I am as much in earnest, as if absolutely screaming, I say, how do you do, why haven't you told me without being asked, when you might have known how much I should wish to hear. You have no good reason I know, and if your next letter don't enlighten me upon the subject I'll pay you with always standing to it that selfishness and self love are prodigiously alike and that everybody ought to be ashamed of either. Ann burst out the other day at the table with the enquiry what it was that you and I were quarelling about that Sunday when I was broiling the steak, I told we were only disputing about self love and selfishness, she said disputing and quarelling were the same and wished to know which was right you or I, I told her you thought you was right and I thought I was, dinner came about which we were agreed perfectly, and so it ended. By the way who do you think has passed the night with us this week? Your mesmeric friend, good old Dr. Packard; he enquired for you, and said he thought, when coming along, that perhaps you would like to go to sleep again, he came Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Fiske had not got home from an Installation in East St. so I had a long sit down with the good old gentleman about mesmerism, he read cases from his note book, and told me how he had put people to sleep that only laughed at the subject, - by the force of his will, without passes of his hands, they would begin to nod and actually go to sleep so that in one instance, he drew a needle threaded through the skin of a gentleman's wrist without waking him; I was rather sleepy from having dispensed with my regular nap, but really began to think, who knows but you are willing me to sleep, and was quite willing to resign my chair to Mr. Fiske when he appeared, and tea time called for my attention. In the evening Dr. Gridley was in - Mesmerism was up again, and the Dr. declared himself ready to avail himself of all the discoveries that should be made, and turn to account in his profession, but my private opinion is he don't think much of it.
Miss Louisa Smith called the other day, and said all you could (near the wafer) desire respecting the book she lent you and your not calling.
We are all as well as usual but Mary, and she says if it please God she will be well tomorrow, she was sick all last night with Cholera mordus and has not sat up, or left her room to-day, but her medicine has operated well - she has no fever, and I presume will be about again in the morning.
I could not but be amused this forenoon when doing up the kitchen work to remember that you had not yet got the letter in which I had predicted that my sitting down days were at hand. I did change my dress by nine o'clock yesterday and sewed all the forenoon, for the first time since before Commencement, but this morning I was stationed again at Helen's post, and have been in the help attitude through the day, but Ann has helped with all her might, we have eaten at the old place by the south window which you must remember, and have got along comfortably.
Remember me affectionately to Uncle and Aunt, also to my father and ask him when "next week" is coming, I really did expect him till your letter prevented me.
Have you told such a story that he don't dare to come? Tell me if it rains all the time your way, we have hardly had a whole day without rain since you left, and everything is soaked through; we have some fine peaches, but ever so many rot and mould upon the trees.Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Charlestown, MS SEP 23
[September 20, 1842] Charlestown Tuesday morning
My Dear Mother
I received your letter Monday forenoon and was glad enough to find I might go to Miss Austin. I should think the Seminary girls had almost as bad a reputation for manners as the Amherst girls.
Aunt and I were up at Cousin Abby's the other day and she said "There was no attention paid to manners there at all and one might almost tell a Seminary girl in the street they were so rude." There goes the breakfast bell, no it isn't that I have not the different bells yet there are so many ringing here all the time.
Hannah Tufts went to the Seminary a while she whispered one day and they made her stay after school and learn a Bible Lesson for a punishment only think of studying the Bible when feeling cross. Uncle Hooker is here he has been getting a Daggueritype likeness of Uncle and Aunt Vinal they have made two sets one for Martha Vinal and one for Mrs Hooker. Aunt says if you come down this fall she will sit for one for you I told her you would admire one and should not you? there is the breakfast bell in truth so goodbye.
Last Saturday afternoon Uncle Aunt and myself went to ride we rode to Cambridge you dont know what a beautiful place it round the colleges all the buildings are in a grove there are five or six buildings it looks like Eden compared with our Colleges. the professors houses are beautifully situated some of them had so much shrubbery about them you could hardly see the house.
When you see Jane tell her I have got a new flower pressing for her the name is Apple Peru. I think it was not fair to give so much of your letter to Martha she did not write but a little in my letter and nearly all your letter was to her.
Thank Anne for her little letter and tell her I spent all her money but thirty cents on the village and teaset, and ask if she wants the thirty cents spent for candy and if not, how much of it she wants spent for candy. tell her that if I had not got anything but candy with her dollar and only got a cents worth of each kind I could not with all her money have got half the different kinds there are. I had no idea of the different kinds there are. I have left Martha a good large place to write dont you think so? I saw cousin Deborah a few moments just long enough to find she was very large and quite homely. Cousin Adeline is quite unwell very nervous and lowspirited something as she was some time ago. Cousin Martha is a good deal better than she was at our house Cousin Sarah will stay here about two months when you send my things I want to have you send my checker board and my solitaire board. I am very glad I brought my Bell and Hammer we play most every night. Uncle Vinal is talking of taking a carry all and going down to Nahant this week or next I do hope he will I could get some quite pretty shells this is my first attempt at writing across I like it very well I dont know as you can read it though.
I am very sorry to hear Mary is sick give my-love-respects-anything that is proper to her
Friday before breakfast your letter has been neglected for two days for I began to go to school Wednesday at Miss Austin's I like her very much I study English grammar Emerson's second part in Arithmetic Worcester's Geography Worcester's History and Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History I admire Natural History it is almost like a story. tells allabout all kinds of animals with anecdotes of each one I can tell you I have enough to do I learn all my lessons out of school. I have got two to learn this morning before nine o'clock school begins at nine and is out at one We only have one session a day. Aunt Vinal sends love Give love to Father and Anne I have no more time so good bye
Yr affectionate daughter
Helen M FiskeI thought as Martha had so much ailings" to tell about she must have a big placeThurs Friday morning,
My dear Deborah, The day that we received your last letter I called upon Miss Austin, and on Wednesday Helen commenced school. You will perceive that Helen has more lessons than you expected, Grammar Geography & Arithmetic are recited I believe every other day and of course she must have some lessons the intermediate days to occupy her time, this is the arrangement of the school, with which of course I could not interfere. Helen has had to have an entire new set of books, some I have purchased for her, and borrowed some of aunt Tufts, she now has all her books and appendages and I trust she will improve, she seems quite ambitious, studies some out of school. Miss Austin does not give lessons in drawing but if there are scholars enough she intends to have a class. Miss Austin's terms are ten dollars a quarter. Aunt wants to know what you think about having Helen attend some to music, particularly singing, take one lesson of Mrs. Waterman, Abby I think could assist her in singing much better than Mr. Underhill Helen seems interested in practising, she plays some to aunt every day and probally would have about an hour's time each day for music, she attends school from nine until one o'clock Write us what you think about it. Helen is very well and seems as happy & light hearted as you could wish to see her, her merry laugh does us all good, she is perfectly respectful, kind & obedient, I do not say this to please you merely but because it is the truth. In only one respect has she shown any opposition to our wishes, & I mention it because I know you want the whole truth. Helen objects to going to Sabbath School, and she thinks you did not say she had better go. Aunt did not actually insist upon her going, but as moral persuasion had no effect I thought I would consult you. I hope you will think it best for her to go, as I know aunt would feel unhappy not to have her, she will abide by your judgement, and I presume she would have gone if we had said must, but I dislike to force a child to any such place, a word from you will probally set it all right. Aunt has gone over this morning to spend today with uncle Scholfield's family, cousin Adeline is miserable, she has lost flesh and looks sick, some of the friends think it may be her age, she is much as she was before, dreadfully nervous, her sisters have a trying time, they feel very anxious. If you have not written to Ellen do write soon. Aunt sends love to you and says soon she shall give you some of her composition, aunt is very well for her but I do not think uncle is as well as he used to be. Your father has been here the two last evenings, he is very well says pretty soon he is going to Amherst.
My own health is very good. I have not been as well before since commencement, for a week after I came home, I was almost sick but am now nicely as usual when I write to you I am in great haste so you must excuse all, read what you can & guess the rest. Love to Anne.
Only think of it. I hear Mr. John Humphrey is going to preach for us, this thread is the measurement you asked for.
How often will you write Helen, and how often do you wish to hear from herAddressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Boston, Mass To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal. Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sep 28
[Tuesday, September 27, 1842]
My dear Helen,
The other day it happened to come into my mind, that at just your age I was at school in Charlestown, and to go there had left a home at aunt Clift's as dear to me as your. Aunt Vinal can show you the very house some time in which I used to board. You cannot feel at aunt Vinal's as I did at Mr. Brown's for at first all were strangers to me there, however, I soon felt at home, and had many a good time, and left the family with real regret.
I was glad of your letter the other day as you ever were to find a new flower, and unlike your flowers that face and crumble from being laid away, your letters remain a fresh likeness of yourself. By the way, Anna and Jane found a new flower Saturday in Dr. Sellon's lot, which was the occasion of as much rejoicing as a mine of gold to a miner; the name of it is purple gentian, it has four bight purple leaves beautifully fringed, and when nearly shut, looks some what like a half-blown pink, only larger.
Your plants are all flourishing; the China asters nearly ready to blossom, and considerably taller than when you left, and the calla and geraniums stretching up and looking out of the window all the time, admiring the light and sun, but not seeing what has become of their young mistress. I am sure they must be puzzled to explain such wonderful attentions from me, all at once, but you, I imagine, can account for them without my help.
Mary is going on very well indeed, as neat as a pin, willing to do anything, pleasant and still and ready to assist about the cooling in any way, though ignorant of it entirely now I think she will learn easily. And only think of it, Helen, this good girl started from Ireland for us just about the time Elisabeth began to grow unsteady and lazy and when we were in the thickest fog unable to get hold of even one of Cousin Martha's "little eyed Peltons, this good girl was sailing straight towards us across the ocean, we'll remember this next time, and suggest it to comfort us taking their turn at "smudging". Mrs. Sweetser is alone, washing dishes, as did the Fiske family and their cousin.
Mr. & Mrs. Slater and Mary went to Cabotville Saturday to see if Mary's sister would come and live with her; but she is not coming at present, Margaret said "indaad and she hadn't a heart to say one word to her mistress about laaving so soon. Mary's brother has gone to Boston to live, the man having failed with whom he worked at Springfield. I asked Mary why Margarett had not written to her, she replied "and she thought she would wait till she had all the news." isn't this Irish exactly? Anna says she does wish you were here to make some fun, she says she cant remember how you used to look, only when she used to trouble you, and you used to say "you had better look out Miss Anna" I remember your looks very distinctly; when ripping up your old beauty of a morning gown this forenoon, I had a very distinct vision of you as you used to appear at the sink, encountering the stew-pans, and the rest of the dark sisterhood living in the wash-room. Our kitchen looks quite like winter, last week your Papa put up the cooking stove, we have had a fire in the sitting room every day for some time, but today it is warm again, and the grass has been mowed. One of the iron hoops has burst off from the large wash-tub, I mention it to you as that tub has always been one of your special friends, and sat and held you many an evening in spite of dimensions that could hardly be accommodated.
You will receive this Wednesday Thursday, and I shall depend upon a letter from you by next week Wednesday Thursday. tell me all abut your school, and write a definite journal (see first page) of one or two days, that I may have a clear idea of your movements. My time was so taken up with housework and sore throats I did not say many things to you before you left, which, differently situated, I should have thought of. I do not recollect speaking of the Sabbath School, but I wish to have you attend, and hope your teacher, whoever it may be, will be able to testify as favourably as Miss [Prevear?], respecting your recitations and punctuality. I agree with you that the Bible is the last book to be studied for a punishment, but not as a punishment, it is the first, and you may depend upon it, that the more you study it, cheerfully, and trying to understand it, the more interested, you will become; and just think of the inconsistency, of insanity I might say, of studying everything, but the word of God, by which we shall be judged at the last day; think too of the ingratitude and want of love we show by taking no notice of what God says to us, the Bible is his letter to us, telling us what he has done for us, what he wishes us to do, how we may get ready to go and live with him in Heaven, let us read it more and more. I should admire a daguerotype likeness of uncle and aunt, especially if should fail of coming to Boston this autumn, much more the shadow of a friend, if I cannot see the substance. I dreamed of going last night just to make a call at uncle Vinal's, to return the very next day.
Mr. John Humphrey goes to Charlestown tomorrow he will stop at Mr. Adam's, the father of Henry Adams, and Cashier of a Bank, Cousin Martha can tell you where he lives without doubt. I shall send a bundle by him for you, and I wish to have you call for it Friday morning, so that he need not feel obliged to go out delivering packages, as the beginning of his ministerial labours.
If aunt Vinal thinks best, and you will practice without being put up to it, and it will not make too much dinging upon the piano you may take one less a week of cousin Abby Waterman, that is if you can find the time without neglecting some thing at school.
I am very glad to hear from cousin Martha, that you behave so well, persevere in being as good a child as you know how to be, ask aunt Vinal to tell you everything she notices in you that is objectionable. Aunt Vinal has brought up little girls "by dozens" and knows just what they ought to do.
Be very cautious at school to avoid speaking about the girls to each other, of course you will like some better than others, but describe nobody excepting to aunt and Martha, and be upon the look out for excellencies rather than defects, be upon friendly terms with all, have no shockingly affecting exclusive intimacy with any one. Never borrow any thing of any of your school mates -- what you need buy for yourself. I shall write to-night to Cousin Martha. Much love to her and to uncle and aunt Vinal, and grandpapa, when you talk to grandpapa be careful to speak slow and distinctly, and not quite so loud as you used to; deaf people cannot hear a scream so well, and then it is unpleasant to them to know that any one is tuning up with such an extra effort. Love to Cousin Sarah - what do you pass for at uncle Vinal's, do you suppose, among those who have to guess -- two cousins, two friends, two Seminary girls or what.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked Charlestown, MS, Oct 5
[October 4, 1842] Charlestown Tuesday morning
My dear mother,
I ought this minute to be studying but I thought you would feel bad if you did not have a letter Thursday so Ive left Geography to write a line or so to you.
It is Tuesday and Ive got to carry in my composition tomorrow morning! and have not touched it yet!! I went to Mount Auburn yesterday afternoon with Cousin Martha and Cousin Eunice had a beautiful time could not stop to tell you all about it in this letter. Tell Anne I have got some acorns for her from Mount Auburn.
I began to take music lessons of Cousin Abby Saturday. I take one a week and I can tell you I have as much as I can possibly do I am going to give an account of my visit to Mount Auburn for my composition so it will not be as hard as though I made up some thing
When I get home from school (at 1) I eat dinner and then practise steady sow or knit all the afternoon and sometimes evening in the morning have to study all the time I can get and you can see how hard it must be to get time to write compositions or even a letter to you my head aches now so that I can hardly hold my pen steady
I must go now and have my head combed and go to school perhaps I can find time to finish the letter this noon or tomorrow morning so good bye till then I hope I shall have a better pen then than I have now. Wednesday forenoon. I have written my composition carried it to Miss Austin. I learnt my lessons this morning and was dismissed before one o'clock which will give me time to practice and write a few lines to you. Aunt tells me to tell you they like Mr Humphry very much and dont know as they will let him go back again. Sarah sends love and thanks for her cravat. I do wish you would prevail (in some of your letters) upon grandpapa to go up to Amherst I do think he has failed very much since he was at our house he has a rupture too just below his bowels that has been quite sore lately. love to papa and Anne and three good kisses apiece for them. Do write when papa and Ann are coming to Charlestown. I want to see you all dreadfully. Sarah says "she is afraid to write to you because she dont write well enough! Did you ever see such nonsense? good bye I cant stop any longer
yr affectionate daughter
Helen M Fiske
Dear Deborah, I wright a few lines just enoughf to convince you that I am not all the time making bread. make yourself easy about me my new charge is more a comfort then care my greater trouble is, the dreadfull fealing I shall have when she leaves me. I hope we shall see you hear soon why cant you do like other folks you take one carage with your Husban and younger Daughter and shut up your house if you cant leave it open and come and make us a visit oh, how glad we should be if I thought you wanted urging I would say more my love to Mr. F and Ann take much to your self your aunt
My dear Deborah, You will perceive that Helen wrote the above in great haste, she delayed commencing the letter until yesterday morning, when her composition was weighing most heavily upon her, you would judge that she was most woefully hurried & so she was just that moment, though not usually, her headache which she mentioned was probally produced by fatigue the day before when she went to Mt. Auburn, she usually appears very well generally has a good run out of doors after dinner, and a walk with Sarah in the afternoon, she likes Miss Austin very much and is quite ambitious about her studies, she is disposed to study evenings although there is no need of it and we do not like to have her.
She is very much interested in knitting these little stockings, & since he has been here, she has hemmed her aprons, and one handkerchief Helen appears very cheerful & happy. she gives us no trouble, she is uniformly pleasant and obedient. I do not see a frown upon her face, nor heard a disrespectful or impatient word. Your father is here almost every evening. he and uncle cannot yet decide about disposing of the remaining buildings upon the Smith end, aunt is desirous that they should let them all to the man who has the stable, for a term of years, so that they need have no anxiety about it. Your father sometimes talks about building again, if he does not he will be at liesure soon as they decide about the Smith end, aunt advises him to build and she says if you write to him she wants you should use your influence not to have him, he seems now rather worn out, with his summers work, he is not sick, but he appears too old to engage in active business. Aunt thinks it doubtful whether he visits you this autumn, and she wants you to come down here, you will I hope come soon. Mr. Humphrey preached all day on the sabbath, We like him much. I was exceedingly interested in his sermons, his text was "God is love." but I am a little surprised that you like his sermons so well, his theology is so decidedly new school. I hope we may see him often, he boards directly opposite to us in Mr. Tufts' family. With regard to Helen's books aunt Tufts was very happy to lend them all, and Helen carries them to & from school in a wallet which I purchased for her. If Helen was remain at Miss Austin's permanently, I would not have borrowed books, but it seemed to me a pity to buy them just for a few months, because
it is doubtful whether she will use them in the next school which she attends, I thought it quite a laudable piece of economy just what any of us would be willing to do for another.
I am almost afraid that Helen will alarm you about your father, but really there is no occasion for it. Last evening he was speaking about a rupture that he has in the groin. Aunt says she never knew any thing about it before probally you have, as he says he has worn a truss for it sometime & now it is rather more troublesome than usual. I must close as Sarah is waiting. Anne is with us & sends love.
M. B. Vinal
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass.
[Saturday] Charlestown. October 15th. My birthday
My Dear Mother
It is my birthday and I do wish I was at home with you and pa and Anne.
I am very much obliged to you for my dress, ribbon, ruffles, and all the pretty things you sent me I like the bonnet ribbon very much indeed and the frill is beautiful it exactly fits my neck or rather the neck of my cape. I can not tell what sort of a cape to have to my cloak indeed it is not known what sort of cloaks will be worn this winter or what kind of capes either I think you had better have the cloak made without the cape and have the cape made down here.
I write composition every fortnight and I choose my own subjects. I wish you would write with papa and Anne are coming down I was afraid from pa's sending to grandpapas to do that business that he was not coming at all.
Grandpapa was here Thursday night he told me to tell you when I wrote again that "he should not come up until he came to spend the winter: and I do hope you will take Anne and come down and stay till he goes up why can't you? You would not have much care of me for I go to school you know every day. by the way my teacher Miss Austin called her Saturday while I was gone to ride and she told Aunt Vinal "I was a very good girl and she was very much interested in me" I don't know as I ought to tel this myself, but you would never know it in the world if I did not. tell pa he need not think I had better had gone to the Seminary for there never was a better teacher than Miss Austin in the world. I could not of liked Miss Whiting (the teacher at the Seminary) any better nor I don't believe half as well.
I am going to write a order of exercises for you on the next page so that you may know just what I have to do.
Tell Anne that (so she neednt wink so fast she cant see when she sees her things by Mrs Snell) I will tell her what three is. in the first place there is her village next her glass cups and saucers both bought with her money next (as a present from me) is a pewter set of cups and saucers an agate marble and a doll dressed. so long give my love to Pa Anne and Mary not forgetting Mrs. Deborah Waterman Vinal Fiske in your distribution
Yr affectionate daughter
Helen M Fiske Order of Exercises
Monday Reading. Definitions Geagraphy English Grammar Natural History Writing
Tuesday Same Arithmetic, omitting Writing
Thursday English Grammar Natural History Worcesters History Arithmetic
Friday Same Writing omitting Arithmetic
Saturday English Grammar Natural History Worcesters History Writing.
Finis the week
P S Tuesday Aunt Bennet has just called with your letter. Aunt Vinal sends her love and says she hope to you wont dissapoint us by not coming down this fall. I wish you would get Papa to say what month we may expect him.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Boston. Mass. To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal. Postmarked Nov 22.
[November 21, 1842] Amherst. Monday Evening.
The jabberings of Helen Maria Fiske in her sleep, while she was dreaming about money, and kicking her cousin Sarah Hooker out of bed.
That bill! that bill!
The money! the money!
Why cant you stay;
A five dollar bill,
How many things twill buy!
Come down here, you limb,
Oh, I wish I could fly,
For there goes the money,
Up in the tree,
Just flying away,
Why, dont you see?
There it goes again
Off on to a shed,
I say I'll get up there,
Let me stand on your head
Hold still, hold still,
I shall certainly fall,
And here's this old fence,
And a great brick wall.
And there is a dove,
Flying in the air,
Carrying the very money
To nobody knows where,
Oh dear me! the money I see,
But I shall never get it,
Oh dear me!
You're very naughty I am sure
To steal from one so awful poor
I wish you'd bring the money back
Why Sarah, was it you, went whack?
How I came to overhear this gibberish of yours Miss Helen, is for you to find out, and another thing you are to do, is to make Sarah two courtesies, and ask her pardon for every black and blue spot of which you have been the occasion, and this is what I'll do to relieve your mind upon the subject of money, and secure more quiet times up in your sleeping chamber. I'll tel you that you shall have $1.50 cts to spend for Ann, which you will feel is enough if you bear in mind the other uses for money beside buying playthings. And here I will add Ann's messages, she wishes you to buy some confectionary, but not much because it will be eaten up, and that will be the end of it, she would like a pair of little iron andirons about so long, if they would not cost much, and a little Bureau, and perhaps a wash bowl and pitcher and anything else you think she would like, she dont know what, for it seems, she says, as if she had already, almost everything, if you find a very small iron spider I think it might please her, but dont buy any babies, large or small, for Ann says now, she is almost like the old woman that lived in a shoe she has so many children to take care of -- they must all be laid just so, and covered up just so warm, the worst looking especially, because it would be so mean and cruel to turn them off for growing old and getting worn out. Although Ann has calculated so much upon coming to Charlestown she gives up the visit with a very good grace, her love of money coming in to help her do it (the $1.50) you know she had the promise of coming to see you, but when your Papa made it, he intended to come and see you in about six weeks, when the weather was very comfortable, but now it is so cold we both thought there would be danger of her getting sick, and another thing, we should not of course think of having her stay with you but two or three days, and at Weston unless your Papa was there, I thought she would be homesick, and another thing. think how I should miss you both together -- all alone, with none but Mary, in the Winter vacation. And Ann is a great deal of company, for though so mighty demure in the presence of strangers, she is full of talk with me. But I must hasten to answer your questions -- you may wear your mousline-de-laine to school, be very careful of it, when you use your slate, put a piece of paper, or your handkerchief over it, instead of rubbing your sleeve back and forth upon it. Your rose bush and Ann's, the lemon tree, your geraniums and a little rose of mine are all safe in the kitchen and sitting room, with your Calla also, which drinks water and grows astonishingly; the Petunia I presume it is too late to take up, the ice geranium was taken up, but died of homesickness, it could have been nothing else as it had the best of care.
Beware of following my example in scribbling, I have written in the greatest haste being in the midst of a new outfit of collars and bosoms for your Papa, so that your Aunt Maria need not have old ones to darn, nor be doing up some every week. Monday Evening 10 o'clockMary takes such a kind interest in you, I read your letter to her, she laughed when I had got through and said, "well isn't that real craving for the money -- indaad it is, it is a "good lot" Helen wants.
As for Ann's birthday dont spend any of your money with reference to it for I have a plan for celebrating it which you will like better, and Ann too, than your agreeable surprise, which would soon be over; spend the rest of your money for yourself, only spend it well, for something useful, as well as pretty. The gilt paper you speak of, is rather dear, and extremely troublesome to paste on to paper, the least gum or paste tarnishes the gilt. If your Papa is not ready to come to Amherst when your term is out, I hope grandpapa will come home with you.
Begin a letter to me as soon as you get this and put it in the office so as to come to Amherst next Monday Dont disappoint me as your Papa will be away then and I shall think more than ever (which is needless) of letters. Much love to uncle and aunt -- How will you ever pay them for their kindness. Last Sunday night, a week ago, I sat down and filled a sheet to you and cousin Martha, and trudged up to Mrs. Moore's with it, with a bundle for you -- the cloth to make your cloak cape which Miss Mary Jane Smith called and offered to take the day before. Last Friday, by some mistake -- it was sent back to me, the bundle and letter, in a carpet Bag for Miss Louisa Smith Your father is intending to start Friday for Weston, if the weather is fair; you may look for him next Monday or Tuesday. Be a good child. Yr. aff. mother. D.W.V. Fiske. A pleasant Thanksgiving to you, I shall be at aunt Vinal's, all but my body.
My dear Martha. Thank you a thousand times for doing my shopping. I did your errand in my very best manner to Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey -- they were very much obliged to uncle and aunt Vinal for their kindness, but Dr H. was engaged at Mr. Adam's and Mrs. H. said, "I cant possibly go". It seems to me she might, as she has a girl she can leave, but she said she couldn't hear, and looked said, I pitied her. she hates to make people try to talk to her. I wish she would go, for I know you and aunt could make her have a "good time" as the children say.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W. Fiske Care of Prof. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: Charlestown, MS NOV 28
[November 27, 1842] Charlestown Sunday evening
I got your letter Wednesday and should have answered it before now but next day was Thanksgiving and Friday morning I went over to Boston spend the day at Uncle Scholfield took tea and spent the night at Dr Smiths and Saturday morning went to Cousin Abby Watermans and dined and when I got home it was too late to write Sarah Hooker went with me and we had a beautiful time.
I am much obliged to you for the money for Ann just as much as if it was for myself.
I am very sorry my dew plant is dead just as I had made it take root.
I want you to write me what your plan for celebrating Anns birthday is, in your next letter you know I am one of the curious sort
How long does papa intend to stay down here you seemed to speak as if he would not be ready to come home as soon as I shall be I hope he will I'm sure for I should admire his company it would not be near as comfortable in an open carriage as in the cars.
It rained and snowed here Thanksgiving day and Cousin Martha had a dreadful headache and twas "sort 'o'" sober here but in the afternoon Sarah and I went into Aunt Tufts's and had a firstrate time
I really hope Mary will prove a good girl. for if theres any thing I dread to think of its going back to that kitchen and sink again I assure you I have played "the leddy" to perfection since I have been here as to housework, but Ive had to study pretty hard some of the time no doubt of it and I've got to study to night I wish when you write to Pa while he is down here you would ask him to get a flower stand like Aunt Vinals it would make our sitting room look so social and pleasant they are not very expensive.
I am very sorry that bundle missed coming here my cloak would not have come amiss atall to day but I did well enough with out it I suppose pa has got it with him and by the way if you have not sent all the cloth if you have an oppurtunity to send down here soon I would like you to send it I want to have it made with sleeves and to belt down with a rather large cape.
How lonely you and Anne must be! all alone in the house I suppose you eat in the kitchen to save work as we did in certain times that I remember I believe I never shall forget the time of six weeks before I came here how I worked washing pots and kettles but I have done so little for nearly three months that I feel as if I quite belonged to the aristocracy. but I expect twont be long after I get home that Mary will walk (I hope you have not given her any new shoes to walk in) and I should "take a cup of kindness yet for Auld Land Syne" with the black faced sisterhood of the kitchen and closets thereof I clothes to pick up for tomorrow and lessons to learn so I must bid you good bye with much love and kisses for Anne and "whatever is proper" for Mary.
Your affectionate daughter
Helen Maria Fiske
My dear D. To day we are
expecting Mr. Fiske, and aunt says how
does wish you were coming too. We
to have a good long visit from
very sorry that Mrs Humphrey does
coming. Your bonnet is here
blue black velvet, I hope you will
cloak I presume if done though
has not yet brought it over. how do you mean to have them sent to you.
Love from aunt
In great haste Truly yours
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Charlestown, Mass. At Mr. Otis Vinal's No. 15 Washington St.
[Fall 1842] Wednesday forenoon.
My dear Helen,
I wonder if you remember that Mr. Lusk of Williamsburg who passed a night at our house two or three years ago? - how he burst into our front door, as if fired from a cannon, as the bell was tolling for a lecture upon education, that he had been appointed to give months beforehand -- how he wanted a little ginger tea in half a minute, drank it boiling hot in another half of a minute, in another was out of the house and up to the vestry, leaving me standing astounded, as if there had been a dreadful clap of thunder, and lightning which almost struck the house? -- how he was in the whew the next morning to get away, because Mrs Lusk would be waiting for him at Northampton before he could possibly get there. Perhaps you do not remember this bustling, dreadfully hurried, man, and I havn't thought of him this long while, till the other day, when reading your out of breath letter, I hope you soon became calm, and that you have had many quiet, peaceful days and nights since, and now if you wish to avoid getting into such straits, aim at having things done beforehand; for instance, begin an answer to this letter as soon as you receive it, and tell me all about some one thing, your school, some of your new friends, or some new thing you have seen, then another day, add a new date, and something more; there is no comparison between the ease of doing things seasonably, and too late, I've tried both, and know the difference, and cannot tell you in common words, how much I wish to have you form the habit while you are young, of doing things at or before the time. I thought I had some news to tell you, but it has hid away somewhere in my head, and this forenoon some other things must be done beside examining such a spacious place for what may prove after all prove not worth searching for. Ann is very well, and just now as happy as need be with a swing I have fixed for her baby family upon the fence, out by the north door; your papa made the swing board with 2 holes in the bottom to keep it on the rope and I put it up, the rope is a blue quill string which Ann untwists to receive the hands of the swingers, so that they appear, as if they were rationally holding on to keep from falling out; Emily comes over now and then to play with Ann, the other day she told me, her Ma had almost put her arm out of jointe, "she had", trying on her new tunic made out of Charlie's frock coatee.
I am expecting Mr. Perkins and the Bishop the last of the week. We have begun to work for them, and the measures I took of the Bishop's shirt make it perfectly easy to cut out the odd looking things.
Your Papa is very busy but seems very well, in fact this clear, cool weather is almost enough to cure the sick; he has just finished copying his East Windsor Address for some periodical -- and his questions upon Intellectual Philosophy the class wished to have printed and they are now in the press, and the "proof boy" comes and goes as in old times; he writes in the sitting room a good deal. A new edition of the Manual is to be published and stereotyped, but it is to be printed at Philadelphia so that your Papa will not be bothered with the proof sheets, -- all he will do will be to look over the book and make such alterations as he chooses and send the leaves to Philadelphia. (I have just thought that perhaps I told you all this -- in my last letter) You dont know what an abundance of apples we have, the new building floor is half covered with them, I wish I could give aunt Vinal some. saturday it was rumoured about within Ann's hearing that there were Indians to be seen in Amherst, that they were over in Dr Humphrey's lot, east of Prof. Tyler's, so she wished to go, just as Helen did at Charlestown, and your Papa and I thought it would please Mary too to see Indians so we locked up the house and rode over to see them; there they were in a tent, not Indians, but rather dark indian looking folks, an elderly man with a shocking looking old wife -- a worrying baby that wouldn't be showed as the girl said when her mistress told her to hush the baby, a young white man with a mulattoish looking lady and her sister, and one or two other children about as large as Martha Snell and Ann -- it was a disgusting concern to me, but we enjoyed the ride and seeing decent people that were there to see them. But Sarah Humphrey, Sabra Howe and other girls crawled into the tent and sat down with them and handled the children -- I whispered to Sarah from without that she had better look out or she might carry home some token of remembrance upon her hands that she would not care to keep. I took Ann and spent a very pleasant afternoon with Mrs. Moore last week, Last evening I spent with Mrs. Hitchcock. Mary goes on finely, and an old friend of hers, a very pleasant good looking, well dressed girl has just come from Cabotville to live with Mrs. Sweetser. she staid with Mary last night, and you can imagine how happy they were together, as they were neighbours for years in Ireland.
We are all wishing to see you, and I think Ann will hand on about it, till your Papa will say some few weeks hence "well Anna we'll go and see Helen and Aunt Vinal;" but they will only have a day at most to spend with you, I should admire to have one good look too at all your faces, and hope I shall before Winter comes, though my movements will depend upon grandpapa's, and the arrangement that can be made for Mary, for anything I would not have her slip through my fingers; and I wish very much to have Papa come right to Amherst, for what you wrote made me feel badly; he is so aged now I am afraid he will not be so well as he has been and I ought to take care of him, for only think how much he has done for us, and there is nothing that would give me more satisfaction than to feel that I was diminishing his lonely feelings or alleviating what he must suffer from the infirmities of age. I shall hope for a letter from you this afternoon and for another, next week Friday or Saturday, dont fail, for it is every minute I can wait.
Yr. aff. mother D.W.V. Fiske.I have written in great haste, expecting Mr. Noyes of Newburyport who is to be the bearer of this, to call before it might be half finished. Much love to uncle, aunt and Martha & Sarah to grandpapa too when he comes over. I wrote to him last Friday.
Addressed: Helen Maria Fiske, Boston, Mass. To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal. Postmarked Amherst, MS, Oct 24
 October 23rd. Sunday Evening
My dear Helen,
"The family christian Almanac" tells no lies about time, else I should feel quite like undertaking to prove it false that my last letter to you was written ten days ago. It was Wednesday morning that I put off an important job for the sake of writing to you abut nothing in particular, only to let you hear from home, remembering how glad I used to be when away at school to get a word from aunt Vinal. And now I'll tell you a little about home. The important job I put off was ripping off part of a breadth of carpet in the parlour, turning it under, and putting down a piece in the corner, so that a fire could be made there. I got it all done, to suit me exactly, Thursday forenoon. In the afternoon Miss Mary Shepard called, and said she was going to Hartford and New Haven to be gone some time, and should start Saturday Morning, so I told her she must wind up our acquaintance for the present with a good visit the next afternoon, and the next morning I sent for Mrs. Washburn, Mrs. David Parson, Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Hitchcock, Mrs. Boltwood I invited with Mary, they all came and the visit went off very pleasantly as we were all old friends and did not sit round in solemn state, like figures on a dial plate -- I wonder if you remember how pleasant our front room seems with a fire in it and the sofa drawn up, and the work table in the corner to give the room an every day inhabited appearance? That afternoon, that is, Friday, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler from Pittsfield called, and engaged to visit us Monday, if they did not leave town. Monday was a beautiful day, and they came, with Prof Tyler and his wife, and I invited Mr. Snell to come in and take tea with them. And I'll tell you what I think, Helen, and that is, that if your Papa can afford it there is no place away from home and uncle Vinal's that you would be happier than there. Mrs. Tyler's whole soul is in the business, and I find by talking with her, that she thinks of everything, the clothes, the bathing, the playtimes and all; she has four of five Misses about your age, and a little baby of her own about five months old. About Tuesday I do not recollect anything very special only your Papa was very busy getting ready to start for Springfield the next day, to deliver a lecture there before the Lyceum Wednesday Evening. Wednesday morning he started, and I baked a company of good Squash pies. Willy Washburn came down to spend the day with me, as I had told his mother to let him, for the sake of change, the poor boy has had a miserable getting up from his fever, and looked perfectly discouraged the other day when I called, sitting there doing nothing in his grandmother's nursery. I can make Mrs. Humphrey hear so much better alone, and it was so very long since she had taken tea at our house, thought I would invite her that afternoon, she came quite early and what should she have in her hand but two letters for me, the very treasures I had been waiting for, and Mr. John Humphrey sent word that at tea time he would come in and take the postage of the letters in a cup of tea. I hope he will be settled at Charlestown, for it seems to me he is just the one for the place, and the place is just the one for him, he was very much interested in the people so far as he became acquainted, but he is in no strait for a call, he is wanted in other places, only last week a good deacon from I forget where in Connecticut came to Amherst after him because they knew him to be orthodox, they didn't want none of these new school preachers." Thursday Mrs. Snell arrived, and I wish you could have seen the jumping and clapping and, heard the ohing over the tea setts and village and dolly; all the neighbourhood, the little neighbourhood have enjoyed them with Ann, and they certainly are very pretty. Friday I went to the Sewing Circle, it met at Mrs. Merrill's. Saturday preserved quinces and was quite successful. In the afternoon Anne had a visit form Martha Snell and had an inexpressibly good time with the pewter tea set, drinking real coffee, out of that dear little real coffee pot, with real cream out of the real cream pot. Today we have all been to church all day. Mr. Wiley of Northampton has preached; tomorrow forenoon I shall be doing your work and mine, and in the afternoon, go out for some materials that will be wanting in completing your cloak and Anns. The Miss Adam's are coming next Thursday, I shall have yours made without a cape, though if you can decide to have a good sized full round cape, they can cut and make one well and then the whole job will be done with, I have no doubt they will be worn, and long cloaks too, to compel those that were in fashion last winter, and think they cant live unless they are that, to buy new. Ann and I have muslin de laines like yours to be made. Tuesday afternoon if it is pleasant, we are going up to Mrs. Prof. Tyler's, Ann to pick chestnuts and see the baby, while I see Mrs. Tyler and have a good tete-a-tete such as we used to have winter before last. Mrs. Bent has moved into the brick house owned by the Miss Smiths. Mrs. Hunt is very much tired with the "Academy girls," daughters of her best friends of whom she hates to complain. I am thankful you are not among them and very much rejoiced to hear that you are doing well; in every respect try to please your teacher, dont violate one rule. I wish you would write me what the rules are, and your Papa asked the other day if a report of your recitations was kept, is it?
I am glad you were pleased with the things I sent you, you are quite welcome I am sure, only be a good child and I am richly paid.
Monday Morning. [October 24, 1842]
all well.Your plants are doing well and a waiter full have been promoted from the washroom to the sitting room. Your rose bush has four buds, one upon each branch, and in a day or two there will be one handsome rose; the Calla and geraniums are doing well. The other morning, Ann's first speech, as soon as her eyes were open, was "Mother, dont you wish Helen would come right down here bounce through the plastering, remembering your peculiar skill and power in bouncing. I could not say yes much as I wish to see you, and so suggested to Ann the probability that we should be too much stunned to enjoy seeing you, but my suggestion did not have much influence apparently, for the very next morning, Ann began again with declaring that she did wish our Helen would come right down through the wall on to the bed, every day, she calculates how many weeks and days you have been gone, then adds five or six days more by name and exclaims "oh good, after that, there will only be so many weeks more. Your father wishes very much to come to Charlestown, and Ann has the subject up nearly every day, it is possible they will come, but you must not calculate upon it, for the Manual will be in the press at Philadelphia, and the printer wants 60 or 70 pages a week. You must not expect them at all before Thanksgiving, then if it is good weather I will do and say all I can to effect the outfit, and before too, if there seems a gap in which it might do good, and it is possible there may be, so dont you let the matter trouble you -- only keep up a comfortable hope, when you think about it. I am very glad to hear that grandpapa is better, give my love to him and to uncle, aunt, Martha, and Sarah if she is still at uncle Vinal's, you did not mention her in your last letter, and I did not ask Mr. Humphrey whether he saw another niece beside Helen. Give my love to cousin Abby your music teacher; have you seen little Otis Waterman? he is a bright little boy.
You will get this Tuesday and I wish you to begin a letter the same day, if you dont write but six lines, and finish it Saturday so that I may get it before the Miss Adams's week is out, to know whether to have them make your cape; beside it is as long as I can wait without hearing.
Do you do anything in the world to help aunt Vinal Has your old morning gown been drawn out yet for any domestic encounter. Do you clean your teeth every morning -- do those little ones grow. I dreamed of seeing you in Boston the other night, but you had grown so tall and looked so young ladyish I did not know you till you had so nearly passed me that you was lost in the crowd while I was pulling Ann out of mud and away from horses, to get ready to run after you. I could neither find you, nor the Earl House, and I lost a great borrowed trunk containing all my things and Anns, the Stage dropped us in Court St in the rain, and drove off with my property I couldn't tell where, such a dismal combination of evils was too much to sleep through and I woke up to far better realities, no evils at all, only my breathing machinery had run down and needed a little coughing to give it a new start -- this was the cause of the dream.
Who is making your dress? and who cut it? Who went to the glass house with you?Your Papa is writing a letter to Mr. Biddle of Philadelphia, at the same table with me, and sends love to you, and all at no 15. Do you write slowly and carefully at school? I wish very much to have you form a good hand, but I notice in your letters to me, that you make no long straight loops to the long letters -- I wish you to make such, only better, g g g, h h h, y y y. when you try you succeed better than I do.
My dear Martha
I meant to have filled a part of this sheet to you, but it is too late, only to thank you for your letter.
I had noticed the death of Mrs. Hopkins -- how melancholly -- to be away from home, and her children -- she must have failed very rapidly from the time she was intending to come to Amherst for you.
Tell me about Adeline when you write again. How did Aunt find her, the day she spent there a while ago?
Yrs. aff. gratefully,
D.W.V. Fiske.The next end is to you. You and aunt Vinal fill a part of Helen's sheet that she is to finish by Saturday.
The obligation that I feel under to uncle Vinal, aunt Vinal, and you for watching over and taking care of my Helen is like a solid piece of lead as large as a hogshead. Does my father really seem better? or does he send such word to me because he is not coming up till winter? As you groan under the weight of your "material body" I ought to inform you that a spiritual community of transcendentalists is about being formed at Northampton -- will you "'blong"?
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Charlestown. At Mr. Otis Vinal's.
[October 1842] Tuesday Evening.
My dear Helen,
You will wink too fast, I presume, when your eyes meet a bundle from home so I will tell you what there is in it, in the first place there is your Cloak, so good to last and come into fashion in its old age, you'll find it very warm, in some north east storm, and I wish you to sew the cape to the Cloak, behind, just put in a few strong stitches so that it need not be lost. Next appears some Mousline-de-laine for a dress, which I hope will pleases you for I think it quite pretty for Autumn and Winter. You will get some mantua-maker and seamstress to cut and make it, whoever Aunt Vinal thinks best, and the tuck must not be run till the dress is done and tried on, for I guessed at the length by an old dress, and may not have guessed right; the linin is to line the waist, and the cambric, the sleeves And next comes a pair of worsted stockings, which I put in for you to wear when aunt and Martha think best, with your black silk sometimes, or when you have a cold walk to take. The two balls of yarn are for you to mend your yarn stockings with when you begin to sear them and they wear out. The bonnet ribbon is for your bonnet when Aunt thinks the one you wear looks too light, I dont know as you will like it, but it is the best and prettiest I could get, all the rest were dashy and thin; the velvet-ribbon compares with it, and I thought you might like it to baste your new ruffle to, which you will find in the box when the lace becomes soiled, I only run the lace on with a fine thread so that you can take it off when it is dirty, and it will be of course, before the ruffle -- This ruffle you may regard as your birthday present from me as this will probably be the last opportunity I shall have to send to you before the 15th of October; I altered your puff and ruffle and made you one tucker yesterday and did them up today, you can get you a ribbon to put into the puff, such an one as you want. Tell me if your neck ruffle is long * enough, and full enough.
* large enough for your neck.
When I told Cousin Martha to buy a copy of Smellie's Philosophy, I did not dream there was one in the house, but there was, and I send it to you with the bundle but not in it.
The enclosed $2 you will give to Aunt Vinal or Martha to pay for the making of your dress with, and if it does not take it all, for anything else Aunt thinks you need, but if you are needing nothing else, you need not take pains to look up wants, for as somebody has said, if they are real wants they will come without being sought. If you write any letters home to your friends Sarah, Hannah, Anna or Jane and Mary, I wish to have you write them very neatly, and let Aunt or Martha look them over before you send them, just as I should if you were at home; it is not to be expected that one no older than you should judge judiciously as to what it is best to write, and your letters will of course be public property in the families where they are received, and perhaps laid up - bear this in mind when you write; things said may be forgotten, but things written remain
I happened to be going by Dr. Dorrance's just as H. received your letter, she with Paulina and Sarah, were reading it together, as was perfectly natural, Hannah told me that she had a letter from you, and handed it to me; I liked the letter for not being stiff and formal, and the general appearance of it was neat, but two improvements I though of, one was not to have repeated that Stage driver dialogue, but have said instead, that it was not sufficiently refined to be worthy of a place in your letter to Miss Dorrance, and the other, perhaps you will think of yourself, if you remember what I have said about the habit among the girls here, of calling each other nick names; you wrote, "give love to Polly, Sally, Anny", now, does it not seem like having a better acquaintance to send love to Paulina, Sarah, and Anna?, I know you will say yes, another thing, there were no commas between your Polly, Sally Anny, so that any one who did not know there were three such beings might think it only meant one poor unfortunate thing. I hope you write Composition at Miss Austin's school, and if you have any on hand, just make me a present of them by Mrs. Snell's return. Do you choose your own subjects?
I forgot to mention the pantalets in the bundle, I thought one more pair would not be amiss for you, and I had just such a piece of muslin left of a new apron I am having; if you are knitting lace for a pair, when it is done, you can make the tuck deeper, and put it on. The 17th of this month the Misses Adams of Hadley are coming to our house to make your cloak and one for Ann, I wish to have you try on your cloak and get aunt Vinal to say just how much longer your new one ought to be, I have the measure of that one -- and does the yoke of that one fit you? I have the measure for that -- you may have a small or large cape, just which you prefer. In your next letter tell me about the length, etc. I am waiting by the hour to hear from you and confidently expect a letter Thursday and hope for one tomorrow, and the next week Thursday or Friday, I shall depend upon another -- the following Monday the Miss Adams's will be at our house, and beside that reason I shall wish to hear from you for the comfort of it, to know that you are well, and to have a substitute for seeing you We all wish to see you very much.
I must bid you good night for it is very late; just as I had written two lines Judge Dickinson and Mr. Vaill came in and spent the evening so I have made up for it after bedtime. Much love to aunt and Martha, I began a letter to aunt this afternoon, but was obliged to leave it to go out about the bundle and this time it must be deferred.
Yr. affectionate mother,
D.W.V. FiskeYour Papa is writing with me at the same table and sends his love to you; Ann left some love up for you when she went to bed, and a request that you would buy her an agate with some of her money and what you thought best with the rest. She wishes to have her village sent by Mrs. Snell. Mary sends love to you and says she
"would rather Helen would have stopped at home." Your plants are flourishing, the smooth leaved geranium would not take root, so I threw it away and put a little rose bush in its place. Your rose bush by the board walk has four or five buds, I have cut off the old crooked tall part of it, your Papa has painted a pot for it, and he will take it up quite soon.
You must be glad to hear Mr. John Humphrey preach. Have you seen him to speak with him yet?
We rode over to Hadley last week, called at Deacon Dickinson's. Miss Harriett is still at Keene.
All the neighbours are well.
I hope you are very careful not to make unnecessary work at uncle Vinal's.
The welting cord in this letter is for your dress -- I forgot to put it in the bundle.
Give my love to Grandpapa when you see him. Have you ever offered to comb his head when he has been at uncle Vinal's? You know he used to like to have me comb it at Amherst, perhaps he would like to have you, but don "half kill" him as you used to say I did you.[November 27, 1842] November -- 1842.
My dear Helen,
You are saying and thinking "only think, Papa is at Weston," but here he is, as snug as can be, writing away at a large table under the book-case. Before the term closed he was for "being off" last Tuesday -- then Friday, then Monday, and I dont know what tomorrow he will fix upon next, so I send to you by Dr. Humphrey, that you may have the materials for your cloak cape and be getting it made, to have ready, when your Papa appears with your cloak. I think you may expect him the last of this week. I dont mean that you can get your cloak cape cut and made in a minute, nor that all Charlestown must run, as if to a fire, to bring it about, but you will do well, it is so Winterish, to take it right over to Miss Hadley and get her to cut and make it as soon as she possibly can, Martha may pay her, if her funds hold out, else your Papa will when he comes. I send you a pair of pantaletts, thinking your threaded ones may have come to a kind of mending which you cannot do.
The ruffle for your neck I thought might not come amiss, so I made, and washed, and starched, and ironed it right off yesterday. You dont know how Anna and I want to see you, Ann says she dont know but she shall almost cry when you come in, just as she did when I got home from Boston.
Your twelve weeks at school will be out the 14th of Dec. in a fortnight from next Wednesday.
Mary is enjoying a visit from her brother and sister from Springfield, her sister returns tomorrow, and her brother remains to get employment here, if he can. We had a real snow storm Thanksgiving day, none of us went out but your Papa, in the afternoon it became pleasant; Ann & Eliza Slater, Jane, Charles and Emily came to see Ann. I invited., the rest of her school mates, but the snow detained them, I had to take your place in helping them play.
Mrs. Slater has another daughter, it was born the day before Thanksgiving, they all seem as pleased with "the baby" as if a thousand pounds were waiting to support it. How do Catherine's little stockings come on that you are knitting? I am knitting my second and shall make a business of finishing it when alone here. I really wish your Papa could go on with the Manual without leaving till he goes for you; he seems to study so comfortably in his corner of the sitting room up under the book case, and it is so much more pleasant to have him at home, but books have been published since the Manual which he must see, I think he will get started Tuesday if the weather admits, but Old Winter is whistling round the house in good earnest and there is almost snow enough for sleighing, it is not deep atall, but the ground is covered. Your Papa gave Ann a ride round the village yesterday, I wouldn't go as it was the first time Miss Hetty has been put into a sleigh, -- "that's just like Ma" so it is exactly, but not like my equestrian daughter what rode through Hadley. I shall hope for a letter tomorrow night from you and depend upon one Tuesday night if none comes tomorrow, telling me all about Thanksgiving day & &
Ask uncle Vinal what relieved him most that Winter when he suffered so much with inflammatory rheumatism Mr. Colton has it -- going from limb to limb and from joint to joint, giving him no peace day or night, and coming on now he is reduced by an attack of fever and erysipelas in his head, it makes it very tedious for him -- write in your first letter what uncle tells you -- dont forget and make no mistake.
I believe every letter I send you looks worse than the last, but I am driving to-night for time to write aunt Hooker, a Falmouth student, M. Butler will call in the morning -- so good night, Love to all, you know who.
Yr. aff. mother, D.W.V. Fiske
Addressed: Helen Maria Fiske, Pittsfield, Mass, To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked May 9
My dear Helen,
It is just one week to-day since we were all busy doing last things, preparatory to your departure Tuesday morning, but it seems as if I had not seen you for a whole month. I have been busy enough, as you can easily imagine, and "I feel some tired now," Anna says, "I do believe Ma, if Helen was here we should get done in half the time," and I believe the same thing. It makes me cough so badly to make beds or sweep, it takes me twice as long as it does you; perhaps too, I am a little more particular about turning down the sheet, and putting the pillows in the same neighbourhood; and perhaps too, the spiders and flies in the corners of the rooms and under the furniture are more apt to have their naps and plans disturbed by my broom than yours. I hope you will be very particular in the care of your room, for undoubtedly Mrs. Tyler will expect it, and beside you would be very sorry to have any of your things about in Miss Lincoln's way. I am rejoiced to hear that you have the privilege of rooming with that lovely young lady -- she is the one Mary Humphrey said she wished you could room with. Your Papa was sorry not to see you again; he was expecting you to return to the sitting room, when Mr. Tyler told him he would miss the cars if he stayed any longer; perhaps it was quite as well to find he had gone, as to see him go. Grandpapa left us Friday morning, and Friday afternoon your Papa and Anna and I carried Miss Caroline Adams home; we had a very pleasant ride -- went round the old road and saw where the Connecticut had been pushing its way uninvited up towards the houses and barns, in one place it seemed as near an old house as our front fence to the parlour windows.
Saturday morning your Papa and I and Ann were the only three in the house, Mrs. White being obliged to stay at home to bake, wash and iron for her own family; we made out to get the work done, but we often said, "now if Helen was only here she would do this." In the afternoon I took Ann and went up to Mr. Joys with the straw bonnet you wore at Charlestown, he said he could change the awful shape entirely, and make her a very good common bonnet; at Weston, and at any time, riding I thought she ought to have such a bonnet her other is so nice. I have bought me one just like yours. The basket you carried your bonnet in will be but a poor protection against dust, you will do well therefore to take the pieces of old cotton I packed your clothing in that it need not be rubbed by the trunk, and put it in to your basket -- all into the bottom excepting just enough to cover over your two bonnets -- then put them in and cover them lightly over with one thickness -- unless you are careful, the piece is so large, you may jamb your bonnets or break the trimming upon the edge. The things you have in a calico bag you can roll up in a paper and put away, and have the bag for your bundles, and hang it up in the closet, so as to make more room in your trunk. Keep on your lambs wool and worsted stockings till the weather is warmer, and when you begin to wear cotton, only wear the three coarser pair with the brown ones every day -- keep the others good. If there is not a letter on the way, begin one immediately when you receive this. I hope you have already written, for I wish very much to hear. Be very definite about everything. I have found your best thimble, your umbrella covering, your silver pencil, and one of your linin handkerchiefs no. 5. and I shall send them to you by the first opportunity. Mrs. Snell is expecting Henry Nash every day from Conway -- if he starts from here for Pittsfield, I shall send to you by him, but it may be that he has already returned without coming to Amherst. I have been thinking that you may possibly have such a sore throat at Pittsfield as you have at home. But if you do, you know there is nothing which can be done for them, but to keep still and quiet, and be patient and take small doses of salts occasionally, and drink lemonade or cream of tartar water, and live very light, which you always choose to do rather than swallow where there is no space. You must be very careful about taking colds, for you know colds bring on the inflammation in your throat -- never pull off any article because you are "so hot, you shall certainly melt," wait till you have become cool by keeping still, before you think of a change, and then never make any, without asking Mrs. Tyler or Miss Lincoln whether it will be safe I intended to have written you more of a letter but have been occupied with calls, "I wonder who called" you will say, so will tell you, Mr. Noyes of Newburyport - a student, and Miss Eliza Dickinson with a Miss Patch -- a young lady staying with her. I called on Mrs. Hunt Saturday, she is not to be connected with the Academy next term, her health is miserable, and some of the girls have been talking against her; she feels very badly -- I pitied her very much for she is very conveniently settled at Mr. Merrick's, and expected to remain; she would like a small, family school, after she has taken a journey to recruit her health and spirits. Ann says "you give my love to Helen, and tell her there are 20 Iris's out, under the apple tree and 22 buds. only think!
As Mr. Sweetsers goods did not arrive last week Miss Elizabeth Adams was so obliging as to defer coming to work for Ann and for me till next Saturday; in rather over a week from that time we shall hope to start for Boston.
Your affectionate mother. D.W.V. Fiske
I shall wish to hear from you regularly once every fortnight, and unless sickness or some very special pressure prevents I will write to you as often.
I cannot but think you will try to improve the fine opportunity you are enjoying for becoming a good scholar, a thorough scholar -- slip over nothing.Any improvement I notice in your penmanship will gratify me very much. I hope your hand will become so changed from the little, cramped manner in which you write now, that I shall say, "why I can hardly believe that our Helen wrote this." I must hasten to secure the next mail.
good bye -- whenever the thought enters your mind whether we think of you at home, answer it with a very emphatic "certainly", for it is the truth that we are often conjecturing what Helen is about, and how Helen does, and at prayers your Papa never forgets to ask every good for "the absent child."
I dont think we shall get started for Boston before the middle of week after next -- the 23rd or 24th of the month. I shall write you again from Amherst; so you will direct no letter to Boston till I tell you. Oblige Miss Lincoln in every way you can, and seek the happiness of all your mates, this is the only way to be truly happy yourself.
Give my love to Miss Lincoln although I have never seen her, for if she is rooming with you, and watching over you, I love her more than a great many I've seen a thousand times.Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Care of Prof. N.W. Fiske, Amherst, Mass. Postmarked: May 15
[May 15, 1843] Pittsfield. Monday morn, before breakfast
It is so long since I came here that the particulars I have forgotten so cant begin my letter with "take my pen to inform you that I arrived here" and all that. I've been just as busy as a bee and have not had a minutes time to write letters or anything else. You charged me to be definite so I'll give you my list of time. those figures which have nothing against are for study.
5:30 - 6:15 Rising and reading the Bible
6:15 - 6:30 prayers
6:30 - 7 breakfast
7 - 7:30 put rooms in order.
7:30 - 8:30 Recreation.
8:30 - 9 Study.
9: - 9:30 School 1st class in Arithmetic
10:10 - 10:40 1st geography
10:48 - 11:15
11:20 - 11:50 Practice north music room other building
11:55 - 12:25 1st grammar
12:25 - 2:00 Dinner and recreation
2: - 2:30 Latin Grammar
2:35 - 3:5
3:10 - 3:40
3:45 - 4:15
4:15 - 6 Do what you are a mind to I always study some
6: - 7 tea and recreation
7:15 - 8 prayers - they always read aloud at evening prayers Which takes time
8: - 8:30 I study
8:30 - 9 practice in the back parlour
At 9 they ring a bell once every one prepares to go to bed at half past nine another bell is rung and the monitress goes around and sees that every one is in bed and their lamp blown out and set in the entry if they are not she gives them a mark on the bill under the head "Bells disobeyed."
You will think this is a very short letter but it is definite I expect the monitress round for the chart every moment Write as soon as you get this be very definite. particularly about the kitchen affairs I hope you are not making yourself sick with "unecssary work" I do wish I was at home to help you Every Saturday night they have a Bible class wont it be interesting to study it with so many? last night Mr Tyler had a kind of general exercise asked each one questions about the Bible it was very pleasant. Every Saturday We go to ride last Saturday. We had a beautiful ride to Lebanon Mountain a few of us walked up part way We found the trailing Arbutus all along on the ground it is a beautiful place here for rides and walks. but still -- "There's no place like home." I have been "awful" homesick since I've been here but I hope I've got over it now. if it is true as folks say "you never are homesick again after you have been really so once: I am sure I never shall be again for I've been "'seasoned" this time for certain.
Give love to Annie and "moor nor foorty" kisses for me you dont know how I want to see her tell her I am studying "Mitchells Geography" so when Pa gets the Manual done and goes with her to "Miss Nelson" to study it he can have my book for I hope I shall be done with it then. Tell pa Mr E. Tyler is as thorough in the Latin Grammar as he could desire Margaret is come for the letter so good bye
Your aff daughter Helen M Fiske
P.S. if you send a bundle send me your light open picnic gloves and the old black ones "I'll mend em" write soomAddressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Pittsfield, Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, Ms MAY 17
 May 16th, Tuesday Evening.
My dear Helen
You dont know how I do want to see you; a dozen times in a day I look here and there and wish you were standing right on the spot, and sometimes I speak out and say, "mother, dont you wish you could see Helen standing up in that corner." Your letter came tonight, and mother has just read it to me, she was wishing for a letter dreadfully that paper you sent she said was just like one little drop of water to a person wishing for a whole tumbler full, and she thought some of sending you a sheet of paper with nothing in it but "letter received -- all well." And she thought too of sending you a great long letter with not one word about home in it, but all filled up with remarks about the news in that old paper printed in 1840. We shall certainly contrive something to do to you if you dont write to us often, and really tell us something to help us see where you are, and who you are with. Mother says you must introduce your teachers to us in your next letter, and some of the Misses you have become the most acquainted with. We were glad of your account of the hours, because we can think what you are about in different parts of the day. I have been to see Katy Baker this afternoon, and had a good visit after she got home, but she goes to the Mill valley school, and never got home till half past four, because most all the boys needed whipping and the teacher had to go round and do that, before they could sing to close the school! I found something that made me feel dreadfully yesterday -- a dear little yellow bird that somebody had shot, it was a beauty, I dont see how anybody can be so cruel as to kill little innocent, happy birds. I couldn't bear to bury it, nor to put it on the ground anywhere without, for fear the birds round the house would think we had killed it, and go off; so I put a little piece of shingle down by the north door steps and a plantain leaf over it, and laid down the poor little bird, then I put another leaf over him, and some paper, and then covered it all with some earth, it looked like a little hill, and I put Iris's and moss pinks into the earth; I wish the poor bird could know that nothing can get at him, and how sorry I am that he is dead.
Ma thinks we shall go to Boston next week Thursday or Friday, and says you must write another letter to her at Amherst, and begin it immediately so as to write a few lines at a time, and fill your sheet, she will give you a list of questions to answer. Mrs. White works for us all she can, some days we are alone; and then I help about the dishes; to-day she has cleaned the kitchen closet -- everything was taken out, high and low, into the kitchen, and after she had got everything put back, she took all the things out of the china closet, and there they stand this evening upon the large ironing board in the kitchen, -- you remember I presume how they used to look; tomorrow they will all be washed and put back, and how handy it would be to have "our Helen" to help us. Mrs. White says to Ma, "you must miss Helen pretty well," she means very much, Ma says, I am sure there is nothing pretty, nor well in having you gone. I dont mean that
nothing goes on well, but I wish you were back again.
Sarah Humphrey went away yesterday in the Stage for Palmer Mr. John Humphrey will meet her at the depo in Boston and take her over to Charlestown and see her on her way to Norton. Paulina Bent went last week -- not to Norton as was talked of, but to spend a year with her aunts, Thatcher said, I dont know what aunts or where, she has one I believe in Boston.
Love from Papa,
My dear H,
Answer these questions to me as you can sieze odd moments for doing it.
How many pupils in all?
How many teachers?
How many boarders?
Tell me about your teachers
How does it seem to be away at school.? in what respects different from what you anticipated?
How many hours have you cried from homesickness.
What cheered you again. How are your dresses disposed of.
Have you room in your trunk to keep things as they should be.
What do you do towards the care of the chamber?
Do you study Miss Lincoln's convenience. Have you had any mending to do yet? Did I give you any cotton to mend stockings with. I hope you will have but little to do for if you are a good girl to study (as I trust you will be) I wish you to enjoy all your recreation hours.
I am glad to hear of Mr. Tyler's Bible Class -- it is pleasant for so many to study together and I trust your knowledge will be greatly increased -- what is Mr. Tyler's plan -- by topics? What part of the Bible are you studying? Have you been quite well since you have been at Pittsfield Do you relish your food, and sleep well, and are your eyes strong Answer these questions.
Yr. aff. Mother D.W.V. Fiske
Be sure to put a letter in the office next Monday or Tuesday with all the questions answered that I have asked, and after that direct to Boston to the care of Mr. David Vinal.
Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Tyler; do either of them hear any of your recitations?
Your Papa sent his regards to Miss Lincoln when I wrote last, but too late, so you may give them this time.
Do you study that little "Mitchells Geography", the same that I do.
Do you study Colburn's Arithmetic too? This is Ann's own question, she cannot understand it that you should need to study the same books that she is in.
Do write a part of your next sheet for me -- tell me about the grounds round Mr. Tyler's house, about Mrs. Tyler's baby, whether you have seen any new pretty books, and anything else that you think would be a good "story" for me. You must take this from me just as much as if I had written it with my own pen and own hand for Ma knows just what I should like to say, she will give me your present of "moor nor foorty kisses I dont doubt for we make a great business of kissing every night -- I give her (and she pays back) a great kiss, a little gentle kiss, two cheek kisses, a forehead kiss, a chin kiss, and neck kiss and a last kiss -- eight in all --. five times eight are forty. Your affectionate sister,You may have the gloves. I shall leave a small package with Mrs. Snell, when I go away; she thinks she shall have a chance in a month or two.
Addressed: To Helen Maria Fiske, To the Care of Rev. W. Tyler, Pittsfield, Mass.
 Boston, May 30th, Tuesday Morning.
My dear Helen,
I am sure you will be glad to receive a letter from me, dated away from Amherst, since our domestic affairs were in such a winding up state, there was no chance for anything but for me to keep on with work. I made our last cup of tea last Friday Morning, and about nine o'clock, with Anna, drove away from our gate, in the Palmer Stage; Dr. Humphrey, and Mrs. Hunt, and her daughter Harriet, were our fellow passengers; Ann was delighted with having a little girl to talk with, and at first was delighted with riding in the Stage, and with the "splendid scare-crows," & every other new thing in the fields and by the road, but before we reached Palmer "she only wished my travelling basket would just keep still, so that she could get a better nap" leaning upon it. About seven the Cars stopped in the Depo, and there stood Grandpapa watching for us with a hack waiting to take us to Charlestown. Uncle and aunt and cousin Martha all met us at the door with a very cordial welcome. uncle and aunt seem very well, but you would be sorry to see how unwell cousin Martha is, her headaches are dreadful and frequent, and she is very weak. Miss Chadwick is much better, and she has become quite cheerful. I came over to Boston yesterday afternoon; Aunt Vinal was expecting Mr. Hooker and cousin Ann Hooker last night, and I thought I would take this opportunity when her family would be larger, to make some other visits in Boston. The Anniversary meetings too I wish to attend, and it is more convenient to be near them. Cousin Ellen Scholfield is very feeble, the family are quite anxious about her, quite soon she is going into the Country to board, somewhere near Boston, as her physician recommends it. I was very glad to get your letter the day before I left home; I shall depend upon another letter next week direct it to the care of Mr. David Vinal, Boston. I am very sorry to hear that your eyes trouble you. It will not answer for you to use them by lamplight. You know it is what you have not been accustomed to at home only occasionally, because I have always known your eyes to be weak or diseased. If you feel as if you must have the time, you can retire earlier and rise earlier.
Yesterday Morning we had quite a fright about Ann at uncle Vinal's, she wanted to go out before breakfast in the Back St. and drive hoop "just as Helen used to," and I let her go, presuming that she wouldn't more than look either way; - but away Missee went, chasing her hoop till she did not know where she was, she got into Lawrence St. and was enquiring for Washington St. and Mr. Vinal's, when she happened to meet a little girl who was with her in the Sabbath School the day before, and who had asked her to come and see her, the little girl knew aunt Vinal; it was Martha Dean. So it ended well, but I was very anxious, and with uncle Vinal and Mary, was searching about the back St. and the Lanes and down near the rail road and water as much as half an hour. I put up a bundle for you before leaving which you will receive as soon as your Papa can send it to you. It contains a pair of old shoes. Your umbrella covering, a little candy, yr. pencil case, thimble, some narrow black ribbon for shoe strings - rolled up in a cotton bag which I thought you might like to put your bundles or anything in, which you seldom want, and may be in your way.
I hope you are a very good child in all respects, nothing will gratify us more than to know that you are, and though it is difficult for your Papa to afford having you away from home, he will cheerfully incur the expense, as long as he has the means, if you improve the advantages you are enjoying for acquiring a good education. Cousin Ann Scholfield sends much love to you and so does Ann, who comes every two minutes to see if that letter to Helen isn't done, because she wants to go and see the Common. Give my love to Mrs. Tyler & Miss Lincoln. How fortunate you are to have Miss Lincoln for a roommate You really ought to be the very best girl in the house.
I am glad little Arthur is better. Mrs. T. must have great cares. I should be very glad of a letter from Miss lincoln.
If I was near Pittsfield, and Mrs. Tyler doesn't object, I would send you just such a box of things as you would like, but it is out of the question when home is all shut up
Yr. aff. mother,
If I should happen to have a chance from Boston I will send you something for the inside of your bonnet, -- perhaps I shall by Mrs. Dr Smith. her mother you know (Mrs. Major Brown) lives in Pittsfield.Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler.
[after May 30, 1843] At Mr. Carters. Hanover St.
My dear Helen,
The enclosed letter I wrote the other day to send by mail, but was very happy to hear just after, that Mr. Tyler was in the City; he called at uncle Scholfield's, and said he would take a package to you, which you will remember to thank him for carrying. I went right out to get something for you to wear in your bonnet, and such a Fab as I have bought is fashionable.
I have put a little rattle into the box for Arthur if you would like to give it to him. Anna has put in some candy etc, she thinks a deal about you, and if it does not rain I mean to add something. I feel troubled about your eyes spare them as much as possible, barely learn your lessons, have nothing to do with reading; diseased eyes would be a greater calamity than you can realize. Mr. Tyler told me that you were "doing well" -- let it always be true.
In haste, Yr. aff. Mother, D.W.V. Fiske.
Ann says "give my love to Helen, and that is all I have to say now."
I have bought you some marbles thinking you might like to play with them in recreation hours, make no holes in the ground anywhere without Mr. Tylers permission.
Addressed: Helen Maria Fiske, To the care of Rev. W. Tyler, Pittsfield, Postmarked June 22.
 June 21st. Wednesday forenoon.
At uncle Vinal's -- up in uncle's writing room
My dear Child, Helen Maria Fiske,
It is impossible to write less than your whole name, I am so much in earnest spaaking to you; tell me if some tears have not found their way down those cheeks of mine, at the Pittsfield Institute, because I have not written since your last letter. You dont know how much I have wished to write; my desire has been equal to the strongest desire you ever felt for a frolic, and this is a comparison you can feel. But how could such a desire effect anything, when every day I have been in company, or away from paper and pens, or out in the Street; this visiting runs away with time strangely, however I have contrived to catch this forenoon for you and Papa, and before any more of it is gone, I will tell you how much I was rejoiced by your last letter. Nothing could have gratified me more than to find that you have been independent and decided in doing right, when tempted to do wrong, and now, my dear helen, show yourself worthy, always, of the confidence that will be placed in you on account of the stand you took in that case -- never have anything to do with any kind of "scrape", but always be faithful to the teachers; you see how much happier you are; the approbation of your conscience, your parents, and Mrs. Tyler's and the other teachers, only think how much it is worth. You did not tell what the girls were doing -- tell me in your next. As to the Pantaletts and collars I should love to gratify you if I could, but you are well supplied with Pantaletts, and those neat linin cambric ruffles, which it was a good deal of work to make, it would be a pity to put aside for collars. You can very soon learn to plait your ruffles in box plaits as you have seen mine -- do it upon a good sized book with the white bundle bag I sent you last, pinned tight round it, or you can soon crimp them by trying a few times. As soon as I can get time I will make you a couple of collars or one or two of these curled dimity ruffles which are much worn now, but at present I cannot, owing to not being well enough to drive at anything, and being taken up with the company coming and going at aunt Vinals, and some sewing I must do for your Papa, to send to him by Miss Mary Humphrey, who is at aunt Vinal's now, and will stay about a fortnight.
My cough is just about the same that it was at home, and I do not yet begin to feel any stronger, I am hoping however now the 17th of June is over -- Charlestown has been thronged with everything. We had a fine chance to witness the procession from Mr. Dean's in the Main St. I was splendid, and it was more than an hour going by. Ann would say every little while "oh, Ma, dont you wish Helen could see this," at last she became so weary from listening to music and seeing so many thousand faces and uniforms, "oh dear" said she "what will come next, I cant stop looking, and it dont seem as if I could look any longer." At night we were too weary to hardly move or speak.
I have written in great haste having an engagement out very soon with Miss Mary Humphrey. Remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln I should be very glad of a letter from Mrs. T. or Miss Lincoln but I know they have much on their hands.
Aunt vinal & Martha have been up to charge me to send their "most special love" to Helen."
As to sending such a cargo of eatables by the Cars I dont see as I can, for more reasons than there is room here to state; I love to gratify you, you know, but you may not always be able to realize the inconvenience of doing things that may seem desirable to you. I think I may be able to send a small box to you like the one by Mr. Tyler by Mrs. Dr. Smith in the course of next month. Were you glad of the marbles, tell me, and would you like your battledoors?
Ann is lying down taking clear comfort with a budget of Arthur Tufts's Youths Companions she says "give my love to Helen, and that is all I can think of now."
You will always find a few good tastes when I can send boxes to you, but it would not be right to spend much money so. Your Papa cannot afford it, and if he could, such things, many of them are quite injurious, they make gloomy dyspeptics of the healthiest brightest girls.
Write the very day you receive this, for I have waited so long, it will be a great while, unless you do, that I shall not hear. Can you not buy some ruled paper in Pittsfield or of Mr. Tyler? if there is none, buy a set of lines and learn to use them.
Tell me about your compositions what subjects you have written upon. It will be a good way for you to have some plan in writing, some heads, not to name as if you were writing a sermon, but upon a piece of paper to guide your thoughts; and begin it some time before it will be called for.
I have bought the Home Quick Step for you and will get the Old Arm Chair and Sweet Afton if you would like them.Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked Jul 2.
[June 30, 1843] Charlestown, Friday Evening.
My dear Helen,
I received your letter last night and you have not been out of my mind scarcely a moment since. Grandpapa handed it to me at the Earl House, I had gone over to Boston with Anna to call upon him, pass the night at uncle Scholfield's, and see some Elephants that were to go through Hanover St. this morning.
Can it be my dear child that God in his infinite mercy has opened your eyes to see the great obligation you are under to him, and the evil of having sinned against him without any regret so many years while he has all the time been so good to you? The bare possibility that the Holy spirit has thus shown you your sins and inclined you to confess and forsake them makes me weep with gratitude, for you know my dear Helen, no you do not know, how much solicitude I have felt on your account, and I feel but little else now lest you should be deceived in supposing that you have given your heart to the Saviour when it may be you have not. Watch against feeling safe or satisfied from any seeming change in your character or feelings; every day confess your sins as if it were the first time, and might be the last; remember that even if you are in the right way, you have but just started from the City of Destruction, and you recollect how much Christian had to encounter before reaching the Celestial City. So is the pilgrimage of every one who reaches Heaven, and whoever expects not to miss the glorious rest must go armed daily against temptations from within and without. As to your tongue my dear Child I know it will cost you many tears, it is so prone to run without stopping to ask permission of Charity of Judgement. You quote "the tongue can no man tame", but with God all things are possible", and to Him you must look for that assistance and teaching which you constantly need to enable you to honour him by a holy life and conversation. Your sincerity must be tested by a holy life; he that loveth me, the Saviour says, keepeth my commandments, no one does it perfectly, but there will be such a strong desire to keep them as to be very conspicuous in the words and actions of his followers. Do you find yourself ignorant of the Bible, or is what you have learned at home and in the Sabbath School fresh in your memory. Tell me in your next what chapters interest you particularly.
It is getting so late I must not sit up any longer. Aunt Vinal came into my room the last thing before going to bed and said "give a great deal of love to Helen and tell her I have long been praying for her and I certainly shall continue to; perhaps it is in answer to her prayers that God has come near to you, do be careful my dear child and indulge in no known sin lest you greeve away the Holy Spirit Would you not like to find the instances in which God has heard the prayers of one individual for others; there are some in which he is said to have blessed or prospered persons who were not pious, on account of having individuals in their families or employment who were faithful in serving him.
Cousin Martha has gone out to Weston to pass a week with aunt Maria to see if the change of air would not strengthen her, and make her head aches less severe. Aunt Vinal is getting ready to go to Falmouth, I think she will start the middle of next week, I shall stay and help cousin Martha keep house while she is gone, and then I shall go right out to Weston on Anna's account, for she really feels the confinement of City life "oh how much better it is," she says, to have a real run in a lot than to be plodding about on these old hard side walks." I read your letter to Ann and she sat and wept as she heard it. She likes to have me help her pray, and the other night manifested a great deal of feeling as I was reminding her of what the Saviour had done for her, but I have no evidence that she has a new heart. We must all pray for each other.
I presume you have had a letter from your Papa before this. Give my love to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln I shall be very glad to hear from them.
Write me again very soon, and in future, until I give you different directions, direct your letters to me at Charlestown for I can go or send to the office every day, and uncle does not go to Boston every day, and I doubt whether grandpapa goes to the Post office every day he is so busy repairing a house, or rather having it done, but he is with his workmen every minute.Saturday Morning
I feel very sorry you cannot hear from me sooner. You will wonder I suppose whether we saw the elephants -- we did, all that could be seen of them there, were four -- all attached to a large box wagon fitted with Musicians -- but the elephants were nearly covered with splendid red and black, ornamented cloths, their ears came through, and their legs, tusks and trunks could be seen below, they are to be exhibited in Boston with a great many other animals that followed them in enormous boxers drawn by horses. I shall try to go over with Ann but the weather is so warm and we both of us get so toasted and wearied we seldom go over to stop
I am glad my dear Helen you express your feelings so freely to me and I hope you will continue to, you have no earthly friend that loves you better than your mother, or is more anxious to have you hoppy, and know just what you suffer and enjoy.
I am thankful you have such a faithful friend as Miss Lincoln, go to her with every perplexity, but above all go to God, your father and Saviour too. he knows your feelings before
you tell them, and if you truly desire to love and obey him, will lead you in the right way, just as a mother takes her little child by the hand and enables it to walk, when it could not go one step alone without danger.
Does your health continue good in all respects? How are your eyes now? Are you as fleshy as when you left home? Answer these questions.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Pittsfield, Mass, To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked Jul 11.
[July 10, 1843] At uncle Vinal's
Monday forenoon June 10th
[should be July]
My dear Helen,
I leave no paper for the sake of taste or manners, so as to have room for some table facts if I can possibly find any, but verily Charlestown is not much of a place for facts excepting about diseases and "certain cures." I took a book from Miss Carleton's Library the other day, hoping to find it full of first rate anecdotes about distinguished men, for it is such I suppose you want, but I have looked over full two hundred pages, and have not been able to laugh once; it is a miserable collection, and the man who picked up such a set of flat things must have a very flat-head.
You certainly had a very merciful escape from those horses and that was not the first you know. in Boston once you came very near being run over such preservations increase, as I trust you realize your obligations to love and obey Him who saved you from being instantly crushed, what if God for a few moments should think it "no use" to keep watching over us, as you thought that morning about praying, where should we be. Persevere my dear child in seeking his face and favour, if he does not manifest himself to us as we wish, we must still persevere for it is what he requires, and it is only when we seek him as we should search for a hidden treasure, that he has promised to be found of us. And at the last great day "depart from me" will not be said to any penitent sinner who has spent a life in seeking his face.
Ann is well and this morning has rode over to Boston with uncle Vinal and Cousin Martha; with all the kind attentions Ann has from the whole house and other friends too, she can but just keep from being really homesick; she says, I do hate ma, to live so scattered -- there's Helen away off at Pittsfield; Papa away off at Amherst, and you and I away off here and I shall be glad when we all get together again." I sent her at first to Miss Rettells school, but the Canker rash was about, and she disliked the school so much for not being one bit like Miss Nelson's school, that I have kept her at home the last few weeks. I should send her out to Weston that she might have some lots to run in, but fear she would only be more homesick there without me. What you tell me of Mrs. Tylers kindness and watchfulnes is a very great comfort to me. You can not but be grateful to God for ordering all the circumstances which led to your being so favourably situated. Tell me a little about your compositions, how many times have you written and what subjects did you take. Do you attend to writing, and hold your pen properly?
I am sorry to have you borrow a skirt -- this borrowing is miserable business, I cannot think that robe shows through that dress with such a hem and tucks so as to look badly I will send you a cambric skirt the very first opportunity I think Mrs. Dr. Smith may go to Pittsfield this month, I will inquire immediately
Uncle and aunt start for Falmouth tomorrow to be gone a fortnight, we shall miss them very much You must write the oftener and tell us all about your rides and other amusements. Do you play with the marbles I sent you? How is Mrs. Tyler's little son; is there any other little toy I could send him that he is old enough to use. I had a letter from your Papa last week, he was well.
We expect Cousin Eunice from Newburyport this week to stay a few days; -- she is to be married in September to a gentleman with three children, he lives in Newburyport, he is a confectioner and his name is Bricker and he is an Englishman. Tuesday afternoon, July 11th.Well Helen I have looked the great book of Anecdotes through and here is one about Daniel Webster that perhaps you may like. During one of the College vacations Daniel and his brother returned to their father's in Salisbury. Thinking he had a right to some return for the money he had expended on their education, the father put scythes into their hands and ordered them to mow. Daniel made a few sweeps, and then resting his scythe wiped the sweat from his brow. His father said, "what's the matter Daniel" "My scythe dont hang right, sir," he answered. His father fixed it, and Daniel went to work again, but with no better success. Something was the matter with his scythe -- and it was again tinkered. But it was not long before it wanted fixing again; and the father said in a set, "Well, hang it to suit yourself." Daniel with great composure hung it on the next tree; and putting on a grave countenance said, "now father it hangs very well, I am perfectly satisfied."
William Penn and Thomas Story sheltered themselves from a shower of rain in a tobacco house, the owner of which said, "you enter without leaves -- do you know who I am. I am justice of the peace." To which Story replied, -- My friend here makes such things as thee -- he is Governor of Pennsylvania."
The first piano forte was made by Father Wood, an English monk, at Rome about the year 1711
At six years of age Mozart had much such progress in music, as to be able to compose short pieces for the harpsichord, which his father was obliged to commit to paper for him. You must tell me whether such things as these are what you want.
Uncle and aunt started this forenoon for Falmouth Write very soon to you aff. mother. I laid awake thinking of you last night till it seemed as if I could almost see you standing by the bed.
Much love to Mrs Tyler and Miss Lincoln.
Wear your oldest chemise and oldest drawers this warm weather.
Good bye.You will get this, Wednesday or Thursday, I shall expect an answer very soon. cousin Martha's pen is dreadful.
I had no hesitation in accepting a remembrance from your friend Janette, give my love to her, if you are good friends to each other, that is reason enough to awaken an interest for her in me.
Cousin M. says give my love to Helen surely, I think M. is some better.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked July 24.
[July 24, 1843] Monday Morning.
My dear Helen,
I have been hesitating whether to seal up a few lines for you to-day or wait a day or two and send you more, but I thought you would be less disappointed with a few, than with none, so decide to go Boston one Cab later; for the sake of a few words with my dear Helen, about whom I think full as much and as often, as she can possibly think of me. And I do desire greatly to see you, because I love you, and think of you as a part of myself, but so far as your salvation is concerned (and nothing is of any consequence compared with securing the favor of God and a happy Eternity) I can do nothing for you, but to pray for you. The Bible must be your guide, and God must be your teacher; repenting of sin and turning to him is what no one can help you do, by talking to you, and this is being a christian; remember this Helen, becoming a christian is not wearing one's self out trying to be so very good that God as a kind of reward will effect some miraculous instantaneous change in your character and all your feelings, so that afterwards you can think "there, now I am a christian", and find it perfectly easy to do right; this is establishing a righteousness of your own which God will not accept, and in which you can not possibly hold out. You must be entirely discouraged, as to anything you can do yourself, and cast yourself as a poor helpless self-ruined inexcusable, undone sinner at the feet of the Saviour; who died for you, and say from the heart "here Lord I give myself away, 'tis all that I can do," and feel that it is perfectly just if he never accepts you, or manifests himself to you, but be willing to have him do with you and by you as will most glorify his name, and then, leaving your soul for the Saviour to take care of, rise from your knees, and go about just what you think would please him, from a sense of obligation; surely you must feel, now that you have stopped to think, what great, infinite, obligation you are under to the Saviour who died for you -- he has purchased your redemption -- you might pray and weep forever if he had not died upon the Cross for you" so that God could be just and yet justify the ungodly. As to feeling your sins, no human being ever felt them as they should, but one way to help you is to think who they have been committed against, and how you have singled out your Saviour for neglect and abuse, while you have been ready to love and treat with attention and kindness all your earthly friends. What would you think of any child who should treat a kind mother as you have treated Christ? especially if that child had been remonstrated with for years. Perhaps you will ask what shall I do, what good can I do that will please my Saviour, be an example my child of all that he requires, of whatever "is lovely and of good report," take the golden rule (of which I believe you have heard before in Amherst) and live up to it as far as possible, set up a regular war with selfishness, aim at the good and happiness of others, study well, behave well, see how little trouble you can make, and when you have recreation, which it is perfectly proper you should have see that it is at nobody's expense.
You spake of giving up your hope and beginning again. I hope you will begin again to repent and give yourself to Christ every day of your life; we shall never stop sinning, so we must never stop repenting, and we have this to comfort us that God will not cast off at last such as truly repent and love the Saviour. As to being talked to, Helen, think no more about it, it is like stopping fellow travellers upon the road to enquire the way, when there is but just one guide board for them all, which you can read just as well as they. Time wont stop, so I must, and be ready for Boston having engaged to go over to-day. We expect uncle and aunt home from Falmouth tomorrow, then I am going out to Weston to spend a few days, but you will direct your letters to Charleston till I tell yo otherwise. I do wish very much to send you a box, but the influenza made me down sick for a week, and since, Dr. Jackson has required me to keep so "quiet" that I haven't done anything but live and sit round days & sleep night. It is well I have 2 such smart springs growing up.
Cousin Martha sends much love to you and would write, but she is too feeble having just been quite sick with an inflammation of the bowels, and she says "tell Helen we do long to send her something, and when uncle Vinal gets home and we all grow brighter I do think she'll have a box."
Give my love to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln, I was glad of a word from Miss Lincoln, and shall be glad of a letter when she has time.
[handwritten note] Volumes of letters of Deborah Vinal Fiske by Nathan W. Fiske for his daughter Helen Maria Fiske in June 1846 just before he went to The Holy Land. The first of these - letters from D.W.V. Fiske to her daugher Helen M. Fiske - has been copied in type - by Miss Ruth Odell who is working on a PhD. Thesis on the subject of "HH". - She hope to get her PHD in June 1933 at Columbia, N.Y. City (#89 HAC)Sept. 1931 - HJ
The other volumes here not been looked in to or used in any way.
Letters looked at by Jay Leyden in summer of 1953 when he was doing Emily Dickinson biog.July 1956Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked: Boston, Mas, JUL 31
[July 31, 1843]
My dear Helen
What do you say to accepting another letter from me before that last one is answered? that you will if I want you to, I presume, as Ann used to say when invited to ride. I think so much about you, and wish to see you so much, in my mind a letter is always already finished, but such letters must be copied to go by mail, and I am finding awkward work in copying this having an old Atlas to write upon in my lap that has had all the stiffening studied out of it by your six cousins in the other part of the house; this remark will make you think I am at Weston, and here I am, with your Papa and Anna. Your Papa came from Amherst week before last on Thursday, a day or two after my last letter to you.
You know it does not take much to make him anxious, and I had mentioned having the influenza, and coughing more on account of it, so he started off to see with his own eyes just how the leddy did; he took Ann and brought her right out to Weston, she had been wishing to come a good while. I could not leave then, as uncle and aunt had not returned from Falmouth; they reached home last Wednesday. Your Papa came to Charlestown for me the day before, and Thursday Morning we came out to your grandpapa's. Tomorrow or next day your Papa will take Ann and return to Amherst, and get Mrs. Hunt, or some other kind friend there to board her till after Commencement. And tomorrow or next day I shall go to Boston, and put up with grandpapa, spend a day perhaps at aunt Vinal's and then return to Amherst, and board somewhere there, or near there, till Papa and grandpapa can find some good help, and then get in to our own house again, I shall have two girls, one woman if we can find one, who can take charge of the kitchen without my help, or oversight, so that I can save my strength to get better with. Cousin was quite sick with an inflammation in her bowels so as to have a physician and keep her bed, more than half the time aunt was gone; it has left her very feeble, and her headaches in addition, which I suppose she will continue to have, will make her quite a care for aunt Vinal; Miss Chadwick too, you may remember is an invalid, so that aunt has a great deal on her hands and mind, and their house is thronged with callers. So that it is no place for me when I'm not as well as usual, because I dislike to shut myself up stairs to avoid seeing aunts friends, and yet it is worse for my cough than almost anything I could do to keep up such a perpetual talking. While aunt was gone and Martha sick we declined seeing anybody but just aunt Tuft's family.
I shall love to think myself so much nearer you as I shall be at Amherst.
If you have written a letter to me directed to Charlestown I shall get it from there because it will be sent to uncle vinal's. But your next, after you receive this, you will direct to Amherst. Aunt and uncle had a pleasant visit at Falmouth, but uncle Vinal seemed quite unwell the morning after he came home, when I started for Weston. Aunt Vinal and Mary were the only two really bright ones in the house. Cousin Eunice had been there two or three days on her way to New Bedford, she returns tomorrow to stay the remainder of the week the 1st of Sept. she is to be married, aunt has invited her to be married there, and I presume she will.
Write me very soon. Ann sends love, and so would your Papa, but he is out in the barn with Hetty. Let a letter for me reach Amherst next Saturday.
I have been looking over [paper missing] with reference to sending them to you, but in every one there is something I think you wont understand, or not adapted to your case. The Bible is the book (which would prefer, a letter from me, or somebody's explanation or abridgement of a letter from me). As I was reading the Bible yesterday I wondered if you had noticed these verses.
Cast not away therefore your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. For ye had need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
This is the covenant that I will make with them in those days saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts and in their minds will I write them.
It is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment.
To Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation. See Isaiah 57 Chap 15 & 16 verses. See the whole of the 55 Chap. of Isaiah.
Remember me to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln, I know their time is occupied, every minute of it, but I should be more gratified by a letter from either of them than anyone else I can think of in all New England. Tell Miss Lincoln, just ten lines, I would thank her ten times.
Yr. Aff. mother
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W. Tyler. Postmarked Aug 9.
[Wednesday, August 9, 1843]
My dear Helen,
Among all the fine things and convenient things that can be found in Boston there is not a single store where time is to be sold, else I should have bought an hour for you a week ago, and written you at once of the purchase. How I came by the hour that you will receive with this letter I shall let you find out according to any art in your possession only consult with no witch like king Saul.
I was very glad of your last letter as you must know, without seeing it written, or hearing it said, it reached me immediately after I had written to you; so my thanks for Miss Lincoln's note were on the way when I received it. I am rejoiced my dear child to know of the change in your feelings, and I do hope you will not be deceived in yourself, but persevere until the end and be saved; it is as you say a great thing to be a Christian in every sense of the word; it is a great thing to have been taught of God by the Holy Spirit, it places you under infinite obligation to live to his glory; why did he awaken you, and incline you to seek and serve him instead of many others who remain stupid, and who have done apparently much less to provoke him, it was owing to his sovereign mercy, and let it ever keep you humble to think of it. And it is a great thing, even if you are sincerely penitent, to live an exemplary life -- such a life as will make your companions wish themselves christians, and this you must try to do, if you wish to honour your Saviour who has done so much for you. You will be watched and criticised as you can probably remember watching and criticising others, and every improper thing you do or say will be very apt to make some one think, "well, if that is religion, I dont want it"; and though there is no propriety in charging your faults to your religion when it is the want of it that make our faults you see it would prevent you from winning any one to Christ to be the frequent occasion of any such thought or remark. Pray much and often for wisdom from above to direct and keep you in the right way. And as to the Bible, it is the same to you as a lamp in a large dark room full of chairs, tables, crickets & everything all out of place, keep your lamp in your hand and pick your way in safety. As to your manner of reading the Bible I wish to say a word to you, you have had the habit of reading so rapidly -- you find the beauty and excellence of the Bible by reflecting, stop and think at almost every verse. I never read in this way without finding something that I am astonished at myself for never having noticed before. I have bought you a little pocket bible, as small as you can have without the print being so fine as to be injurious to your eyes. And I have bought you a cambric petticoat so that you need not borrow any longer, and grandpapa has just given me a good strong box that I can send to you on the rail road, and my intention is to send it next Satarday; it will be directed very legibly to the care of Mr. Tyler and I am sure I hope it wont get lost. You must get Mr. Tyler to open it for you, for it will be screwed together, and you must save the screws, dont lose them for a dollar, it will be such a good box to keep for the same purpose. Grandpapa has found a widow woman to do our kitchen work, and a young girl 16 for chamber work (both Irish, so I hope to go home and sit down, not to do nothing, but to rest.
I admire the hymn you copied.
I have looked but in vain for such a book of poetry as you want, every selection is at least one third trash, & another third indifferent. Cannot you think of pieces at home that I can copy and send you from our books.
You have Cowper and nothing can be found more beautiful; both short pieces in the ends of the volumes, and extracts from the Poems. In "Conversation" I think, there is a beautiful description of the two disciples going to Emmaus and Jesus meeting them and talking to them. And there is the address to his Mother's portrait which is perfect, and an epitaph beginning, "consult life's silent clock," which is excellent. In short there are the two volumes. You asked me for facts for the table, it is just such passages as I have marked in Cowpers that you want. You look the volumes over.
If the weather is pleasant we (that is Grandpapa and I and Mrs. Ann Corlan and Mary Tute calculate to start for Amherst; of all the names, Tute is the last, but Mary Tute's countenance is pleasant enough to make up for it. Cousin Eunice sends much love, no, her "best love" to Helen.
Yr. aff. mother.
Good bye. D. W. V. F.
Your Papa and Anna started for Amherst last week Wednesday, I came to Boston, and uncle V. called at the Earl House and carried me to Charlestown the same day. Ann is boarding with Mrs. Hunt, your Papa wrote that they got home well, Ann seemed delighted to get into our House and get at her dolly, and proposed herself to go right up to Mrs. Hunt's. I dare say she will be happier than with me she was so heart sick of being where there were no fields and groves, she used to say "I love the folks dearly but I do hate the city, and I think it is wicked to make cities."
Give a great deal of love to your very kind, faithful teacher, and friend also, Miss Lincoln, and tell her if I were not in the midst of so many things to be done with reference to going home I should write her to-day, perhaps I can get time for a note to put in the box, her note was worth a dollar a line to me. Love also to Mrs. Tyler. I am very glad you are so much pleased with the school.If your box is not at the Pittsfield depo Saturday, perhaps you will receive it Monday or Tuesday. Rainy weather may possibly prevent us from sending it to the Boston depo, friday.
Addressed: Miss H.M. Fiske, Pittsfield. By Mr. E. Tyler
[Friday] Amherst, Aug. 11, 1843My Dear Child,
I thank you for your note by Mr. Tyler. Your previous letter to me arrived July by mail. You knew that I had been to Charlestown to see your mother, who had been much more unwell. I brought Ann back with me; & I have been so much engaged in attending to necessary duties that I have not been able to write to you. And now I can only write to acknowledge the receipt of your letters, & to express to you the great joy it gives to hear that you appear to be striving to do right & to do well. Continue so to do; keep very near God's throne; read diligently & prayerfully your Bible; no books that I can send you will be so good for you now as that; do not be forward to talk; seek to show a humble, docile, obliging spirit; act in every instance just as your conscience tells you your Saviour who sees you will approve.
Your mother wrote Yesterday, that she is preparing a little box to send you; and therefore I shall not now.
Write to us when you can; but make an effort, when you write to do it neatly, & correctly.
Your mother hopes to be here next week. Give my highest respects and thanks for her kindnesses, to Miss Lincoln -- also to Mr. & Mrs. Tyler.
Your affectionate father
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. Pittsfield. Mass. To the care of Rev. W.H. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, Ms AUG 18
 Friday afternoon, Aug 18th.
My dear Helen,
Wouldn't you like some Amherst news, and to see it dated from our nursery window, and written with my old pen? well, you shall have it; last Monday afternoon, between the hours of three and four, a carriage entered the village drawn by four red horses, and drove up to the public house, where old and young were waiting its arrival, it halted only long enough for salutations to be exchanged, and then proceeded on to the house of a private gentleman, who had insisted that the travellers should at once become his guests; In a few moments the carriage was standing in front of a most rural residence. A most venerable looking old gentleman alighted, followed by an invalid daughter, and two attendants; their reception was most cordial; and so much do they seem to enjoy their delightful retreat that the probability is they will give up travelling for this season. In short, Helen, we've got home, and I cannot tell you how pleasant it seems to me to be at home again, and with help enough to make it unnecessary for me to get weary with housework. The Irish widow woman that grandpapa found takes right hold of the kitchen work and does it, with only a little oversight and telling; and the young girl, about seventeen is very pleasant, she does the chamber work, waits on me, and sews, whether either of them will hold out well, of course cannot be known, but I dont approve of borrowing trouble or petticoats, so I enjoy each day as it pass's, and wear my own clothes. Didn't you get a good box of goodies from me last Saturday? I wanted very much to send you some fruit, but for fear the box might be delayed, and your Bible and other things spoiled by the moisture I did not put any in. That old pair of stockings and apron were merely for a "steadiment" to the other things. What did the transportation of the box cost? if Mr. Tyler paid for it, we will pay it with your other bills. In six weeks your term will close; think as little as possible about coming home, for the more you anticipate beforehand, the less you will enjoy when you come. You will feel like the little girl you've heard your father tell about who wanted a little bowl a long while, and talked of it, and thought about it so much, that when her father gave her one, she sat down the very picture of disappointment, and told her father she didn't feel a bit as if she had any bowl.
I was very much interested in reading about Mr. Adam's [ex-President John Quincy] visit to your school, I knew it would delight you. Give my love to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln. I shall write Miss L. very soon. Ann talks a great deal about seeing you, and would send love, but Martha Snell is here and they are taking tea in the pewter tea-set up in your chamber; Mary has gone up to take tea too; she is as fond of play and little children as poor Sarah used to be.Have you noticed the death of Ann Spofford in any paper? she is dead, also her brother who was graduated here. and how sad to think of Tutor Miller's death, -- and yet not sad, for he did not wish to get well, and some one who knew him well, said, while alive, he seemed to be in heaven half the time. I have not seen Ann Tyler, J. Gridley or any of the girls. Jane H. is at Charlemont and Mrs. Hitchcock away. I should write more but close this to secure the next mail.
Yr. aff. mother,
D.W.V. Fiske.Write immediately on receiving this for I wish to know how you do, and whether your box reached you safely, and at the proper time.
Addressed: Helen Maria Fiske, To the care of Prof. W. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, MS. Aug 23
[August 21, 1843] Monday Evening.
My dear Helen,
You dont know how sorry I am not to send you a box by Mr. Tyler, but we have no fruit ripe, and I have not been at home long enough to have any thing extra baked. So you must make the best of a short letter, with nothing in addition but a book mark from Anna which she made for you at Charlestown, and which I forgot to send in the black box. It was too difficult for Ann to mark for me to think of superintending a motto of any length, so I just said "Anna, put Athol on it, for there is no other word that will make Helen think of you sooner."
Ann is well and almost too happy to keep from smiling half the time, she is so delighted at being at home again, all she wants now is "to have Helen here." But when you see your chamber, you will think there is not much room for Helen, Ann has made a perfect baby house of it, as Mary occupies the little chamber where her things used to be.
You will write by Mr. Tyler, even if you have just written by mail. I have just written by mail to you.
Your Papa and Grandpapa are well. I brought home six little pots for you in my journeying basket, containing a Cactus, one or two India rubber plants, a myrtle, and two other plants the names of which I dont remember;
Good night for it is so dark I can hardly see, and this must be ready to be carried up to Mr. Tyler's.
Love to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln.
yr. aff. mother,
In great haste after tea.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske. To the care of Rev. W.H. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, Ms. SEP 5.
 Sept. 4th, Monday afternoon.
My dear Helen,
Your notes, public and private, are all in my desk; and have been studied so carefully I should not dread a very public examination as to their contents. A paper too I have received since, which you probably sent to remind me that my oldest daughter at the Pittsfield Institute, who shook hands with President Adams, would like to hear from home. I am sorry to hear that you have lost flesh, for I am lean enough for all the family, I lost four pounds at Charlestown, leaving my weight but seventy nine, as to health which you enquire about so particularly, it is better than it was at Charlestown, but not so good as when you left home; I have less strength, and cough more, but my appetite is good, I sleep well, and am able to superintend household affairs so as to live comfortably, and I have not got two great awkward Marys forever behindhand, and never seeing how a thing should be done till I had done it, and then waking up with "indaad, sure and that is the way, why didn't I see my own self." The woman in the kitchen, though not so neat quite as I would like to have her, is really energetic, and goes at the cooking and into the fire with no more hesitation than if it was all out-of-door play, so that while she needs some showing of course, I dont get heated, and am not obliged to stay in the kitchen while she gets dinner. I told you her name was Ann Corlan, but in a day or two after we arrived I said to her "which shall we call you "ann, or Mrs. Corlan" "well" said she "I blaave on the whole, I'll keep up my husband's name, and that was Power or Powers just which you are a mind." So it is Mrs. Powers, as I prefer this name to Power. The young girl, Mary Tute is like poor Sarah in many respects. The world couldn't make her walk quick, or sew fast, or feel in a hurry, but she waits upon me with such good will, and is so pleasant to Ann, and so ready for "odds and ends" that if she learns to control her Irish temper, which has blazed two or three times at nothing, I shall keep her. I feel interested for her, for her mother died when she was quite young, and she says "you dont know how I've been knocked about Mrs. Fiske;" I presume when she has been angry others have been angry too, and gone to "baating" her perhaps, and this is a fine process for reforming bad tempers. Grandpapa returned to Boston last friday You dont know how we miss him, or rather you do know, because you have been at home when he has left us. The term begins in a week from next Wednesday. None of the officers are to resign, but the College is so much embarassed we must live upon 800 instead of 1000 dollars. I feared your Papa would not feel able to have you return to Pittsfield, but I believe it is his intention to have you go; we are so anxious that you should have a good education, and think so highly of Mr. Tyler's school, that we shall make a great effort to have you remain. Mr. Tyler's father and mother are going to Pittsfield Thursday. I shall send to you by them, a small trunk if they go from here in the Stage, but if in a private conveyance I can only ask them to take a bundle. As to another dress it will not be possible for me to get you one and get it cut, and made, and sent to you much before you would be on your way home, no one could cut it but Miss Adams who is always engaged a long time beforehand and if your form has changed so much the lining she kept would not fit you now. Ask Mrs. Tyler if she will get some seamstress to mend your gingham and pay them for it, and have it added to your bill; by no means trouble Miss Lincoln, it is not her business to see to your mending. I will send shoes, gloves or mitts, and lace by Mrs. Tyler and if she goes in the Sage a few things to remind you of the china closet, but dont you expect anything, it is so uncertain.
I love to think of your return, and I hope Amherst will strike you as pleasantly as it did me. I thought our garden and trees never looked half so well. By the way, your peach tree is getting a very old look, it bends over towards the north, it's bark is rough, it's leaves scattering, it's peaches few and small, and when you come home, I propose that you give me the old tree, and select another to grow up with you.
Give my love to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln. If there is any pretty ribbon or perforated paper here I will send you some. I doubt whether there is any.
Dont feel distressed about the examination remember that you are but one Miss and that the attention of the company will be divided among the whole school.
I have only one caution to give you; whatever you say whether right or wrong speak as to be heard.
Your Papa says there is no probability that he can be present so you will have one less pair of spectacles to fear; he will meet you at Springfield -- what day does the term close -- Friday?
Ann was pleased with your note, and would send love, but she is out of doors, with Janey I presume. Papa is resting upon the bed -- he sends "love to Helen," and thanks you for your note.
It rejoices me, my dear child, to know that you still think you love the Saviour, and feel determined to show the sincerity of your love by tying to keep his commandments. It is my daily prayer that you may not be deceived in yourself nor diverted from your purpose.Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, To the care of Rev. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, Ms. SEP 11
 Sept. 11th. Monday forenoon.
My dear Helen,
Without saying "if convenient I'll come and spend the day with you, " or sending any sort of mannerly notice, Cold Weather has come right in upon us; any other old acquaintance may come in any time, but with Cold Weather, I prefer to be rather ceremonious, and feel a little uppish when he pushed right in through to the kitchen even; where I am sitting down absorbed in writing to you to show that if company will come whether or no, it must also entertain itself, especially if it happens to be washing day, which is the "state of things" at our house this forenoon, out in the new building; perhaps it is owing to this that I am calling the weather an impertinent acquaintance and turning my back towards it in such a huffy mood; for the same reason perhaps I dont stop for a single period, over more than a page, it is not the thing for Monday forenoon to be waiting every little while "long enough to count four." But you shall have time to breath, and count three times four, Wednesday, when this shall reach your hands. You dont know how sorry I have felt to have you disappointed about your things, but no one is to blame; when I wrote you that you would have them last thursday Mr. and Mrs. Tyler were intending to leave, but Mr. Tyler has since felt undecided, on account of her health; you know probably that Mrs. Tyler has a paralytic affection which renders her rather helpless in many respects, Mrs. Prof. Tyler told me that her husband and sons were very undecided as to what arrangement it would be best to make; they think in her present state, she could not keep house. So I dont know when they will go to Pittsfield perhaps not till near the close of the term. So I wish you to tell Mrs. Tyler about your shoes and gloves, and ask her from me if she will have the kindness to furnish you with money to purchase them, and let some one who is a judge of prices and things go out with you to get them. We are counting the time till you return. Anna says "good! now it is only a fortnight from next Saturday [September 30, 1843]. Write as soon as you receive this. Remember me affectionately to Mrs. Tyler and Miss Lincoln. I know just how full of examination, and leaving the girls, and coming home you feel; I have been through it all, dont excite yourself into a brain fever, nor let your eyes start out of their proper places, for I wish to see you looking just as you did when you left, only a little taller. I hope you have taken good care of your teeth.
I see I have left out and crowded in afterwards, ever so many little words, you must charge the omission to Mary Tute who, as it is washing day, is superintending the baking of a pudding, instead of Mrs. Powers, so I look up now and then and leave out a word, and say "Mary, see to that pudding now;" but I sit and let her do it, so dont think of me as looking like poor Martha burst in from cooking, in Ann's little book.
Yr. aff. mother.
I have bought you some lace, and some narrow ribbon such as you wanted, and some perforated paper for book marks which I shall send by Mr. & Mrs. Tyler whenever they go before the close of the term.
I think of nothing to mention which has occurred since you heard from me, but the death of Mr. Linnell, Nathan Linnell, you probably remember the two; he died yesterday morning of fever -- he has been more or less unwell ever since Commencement. Dr. Humphrey told me last night that Sarah wrote home letters, showing a great deal of feeling on the subject of religion.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Pittsfield, Mass. To the care of Rev. W.H. Tyler. Postmarked: Amherst, Ps. SEP 21
 September 20th, Wednesday afternoon.
How dark it is sometimes just before day light, when you were feeling so dissolate and distitute Saturday night there was the money all ready for you in the Pittsfield Post office. We wrote a letter together to you last week, and your Papa enclosed $5 for Mr. Tyler to see that your expenses to Springfield were paid with, and he was to give you, to spend as you choose for presents $1 and 50 cts more if he thought best. When so many young ladies are together, each one must be willing to do whatever is for the happiness and good of the whole. I dont doubt Mr. and Mrs. Tyler are very much perplexed by applications from the young ladies for money, their parents very likely say, "if my daughter gets out of money, and needs it for anything necessary I will thank you to let her have it, and add it to her bill", well, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler may know that this is not said with any expectation that spending money for presents, and things not indispensable will be given to the young ladies, and when such applications are made, she hates to absolutely refuse, and yet does not know that it will answer to give -- thus she is perplexed. But your pecuniary fog is all dispersed before this by the $5, $1. and a half of which we are willing you should do what you please with, if Mr. Tyler thinks it best that you should have the half dollar. Dont trouble yourself about a present to Ann, for to see you will be enjoyment enough for once; she was sick four or five days, nearly a fortnight ago, threatened with fever, and she said if Helen was only here to keep the flies off, and tell her all the stories she has heard at Pittsfield she wouldn't mind staying upon the bed at all.
You must come home expecting to see us look amazing thin, for Ann lost flesh at Charlestown, and as for me the Influenza took my two cheeks right off. But we have one solid piece among us -- Mary Tute, she walks like a horse drawing a heavy load of wood. Mrs. Powers steps off with a good brisk gait.
As to your teeth do get them scrubbed up before you come home, wash you in less water, or wring out a cloth and wipe your face and neck, do any way but neglect your teeth; dirty teeth in a young lady's mouth! only see how it looks written; clean finger nails too I hope you have kept. When I was younger than you, a young lady called at aunt Vinal's one day, who could play well on the Piano; she was elegantly dressed, she was asked to play, I went up to the Piano to see the music better but the music did not look so well, nor sound so well, near by, for there were ten long finger nails as black as you would expect to find in a blacksmith's shop. I was so surprised and "disgusted" as Marm Lewis used to say, that to this day I seldom think of the individual without a vision of those ten black nails. I shall
think of you very much during your examination, how many days will it last? You must write, if you have not already, in answer to the letter with five dollars in it, that your Papa may be certain about meeting you at Springfield.
Poor Mrs. Linnell has buried another child -- her daughter Mary, she was sick but two or three days at last with fever, but was worn out and unwell before.
Addressed: Miss Helen Maria Fiske, Pittsifeld Mass.[September 27, 1843] Wednesday afternoon, by a
little snug fire in the nursery.
My dear Helen,
The reason we are in these snug quarters where you used to admire so to be hid in, Anna has been sick a fortnight tomorrow with a bilious, congestive fever. But dont you feel sad about it for she is getting well now at this moment she is sitting up in two chairs trying to draw a tree upon her slate, and enquiring just what o'clock it is, and how soon she may have something more to eat. Our eyes will hardly shut to go to sleep, they are so wide open to see you. I am glad you dont care how I look for this spell of nursing I believe has taken off more flesh since I announced to you that I had [none]; it seems as if it would recruit me to see you Ann will be happy to be left with you, so that I can take the air which I have had to give up doing, in order to have her perfectly quiet, for a part of the time she has been very sick.
This I suppose will find you packing up, be careful not to leave anything, nor put in shoes and rough things without rolling them up that they need not injure your clothing.
I hope I need not remind you to thank Miss Lincoln for all her kindness and faithfulness to you, also Mrs. Tyler for her medical or nursing attentions when you had the influenza, and any other teachers and friends to whom you are indebted for petticoats or any other favours.
It is time for us to take this up to Mr. Tyler's so good bye my dear Helen, dont mind it if you do miss at the examination, it would be strange if you did not in something, but I forget, it will be all over when you get this.
Yr. aff. mother. D.W.V. Fiske.
My dear Helen,
We send you "Perkins Persia" to give to Miss Lincoln, I am sure you must wish to present her some little token of gratitude for all she has done for you. Give my best love to her, and tell her, but for being so occupied with Ann, and so worn down, I should with my pen and in a separate sheet express our great obligation to her for her kindness and faithfulness to you. Yrs. D.W.V.F.
Helen Hunt Jackson
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