William S. Jackson 2-3-26 transcription
William S. Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0241, Box 3, Folder 26, Letters from HHJ (then Helen Maria Fiske) to her cousin Ann Scholfield, 1844-1857, transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, summer 1996.
Addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield, Boston
Amherst, Thurs. evening, March 28th, 1844.
My dear Cousin Ann: -
I received your kind letter on Monday evening. I am very glad to know that Aunt Vinal is better; I was afraid she would be sick as she had a severe cold and went through a great deal of care and excitement while here. For the last three days she spent here (as I presume she has not told you), she was very busy in packing up dear mother's clothing, and linen, which of course must have been very trying to her feelings. Grandpa and little Annie will probably come to Boston the first of next week; Ann feels rather sadly about leaving home, but it is a desolate home indeed, and I think she will be happy at Aunt Vinal's after she gets settled, and going to school. It was dear mother's express wish that Ann should go there, for she could not bear the thought of her boarding with strangers. She is now very well.
Papa has not been very well; his old disease, the bronchitis, is troubling him again: he was rather better, but today and yesterday he has not been so well. Grandpa has been working himself sick packing up his furniture: he worked three days steady and now he feels pretty stiff and lame. Aunt Maria and myself are well as usual.
Mrs. Prof. Fowler appears to be sinking very rapidly much in the manner Ma did. We heard today that it was thought she would live but a few days. The last time she was out was at Mother's funeral, which exhausted her very much and she took a cold in addition to the excitement. Her daughter Emily has but just returned from New Haven. I could not but think how similar were my circumstances this winter to hers. I too came home to find my beloved mother rapidly sinking; but I was permitted to see my dear mother much longer than Emily probably will. Annie is warming her feet at the fire, and she says "Give my love to Cousin Ann Scholfield", and reminds me that it is time for me to close this epistle. Please to remember me to Uncle Scholfield, and to your brother, and sisters, and also to Uncle and Aunt Vinal when you see them. We received the box of things, and everything is perfectly right, and I am very much obliged to you for selecting them.
Helen M. Fiske.
[May 26, 1845] Falmouth, May 28th. Monday morning.
My dear Cousin Ann:
Uncle Hooker is to leave this A.M. for B-n, and though there is much to be attended to, I have snatched a few moments of time at Aunt H's request to let you know that he will be in the region during this week and will return the first of next. She thought it might save you some trouble in finding out his whereabouts, if we sent a formal announcement of his arrival. She wishes me to say that if it is perfectly convenient, you might send by him the materials for my white dress, but if it is not perfectly so, if you are not well as usual, or if there is any other hinderance in the way, it is no matter, for I should not have it made for some time if it was here, & there will be plenty of opportunities in the course of three or four weeks, which will answer precisely as well. Both Aunt Hooker & myself are greatly obliged to you for your kindness in these matters; but for your kind offer I don't know how we should have come out. If there is anything new or pretty for summer street capes will you have the kindness to mention it? I don't know as we shall need either white dresses or thin capes till next summer for it is as cold as autumn here now.
We had a very prosperous journey, & arrived here in due season & in safety. The teacher in the Academy is a Miss Stephens from the Charlestown Fem. Sem. I like her much. All are well & wish to be remembered. Please give my love to your sisters. It is not my general practice to apologize for the appearance of my letters for I believe that the excuses of haste, paper & pens, so often made, are either omitted in reading the letter or regarded as lies, but in verity & truth I say that all those causes have operated in my case to produce this illegible scrawl, which I beg you to excuse & believe me
Yr. affly. Helen Maria.
[October 15, 1845] Falmouth, Wed. morning. Oct.
My dear Cousin Ann,
As Mrs. E. Swift leaves for Boston, this morning, I have concluded to burden her with a letter, which at the same time I fear will impose a burden upon you.
Now I go upon the principle "Business first, then pleasure", & therefore I must first tell the real object of my letter & afterwards do the pleasantest things in the matter.
You have doubtless divined by this time that some favor is to be asked & so it is, no less a one than that you will have the extreme kindness to pattern this article of which I send a pattern & purchase 1 yard of it, if you can do it without any inconvenience or trouble to yourself. It is my last winter's dress, & I shall need it this winter, but it is much out or repair, & there are no pieces of any consequences.
I wrote to Cousin Martha to get it for me, but she did not succeed, & I thought you might be doing your own fall shopping, & be more in the way of seeing than she would. Please not to say anything to Cousin M. about it as she might think it a want of confidence in her. The dress was originally bought at Warren's but Cousin M. inquired there & it was gone. Aunt H. also wishes to know if you will get one yard of this blue for Anne, as it will be as easy to ask for two, as one.
We think it very probable that you will not be able to pattern either, but knew you would be willing to try. I beg that you will not trouble yourself in the least, dont ever go out on account of this, when you would not go for your own business or pleasure.
I suppose you knew of Uncle and Aunt H's proposed visit at Norton. They left home, Thursday afternoon, a fortnight ago tomorrow; Uncle exchanged with Rev. Mr. Poor of Fairhaven, leaving Ann & myself to do the honors of the house. They had a very pleasant trip & returned last Wed. evening. Sarah was well & all things going on as usual.
Our school closes a fortnight from Friday. We all feel sorry to part with our teacher, Miss Stephens, for she has gained the love of every girl in school. The Committee have invited her to return next summer but I think it very doubtful if she does.
How are all our Charlestown friends? It is a long time since we heard from them, but we shall hope for a letter by Mrs. Swift. If you see them remember us, to them & please to say that Mrs. Hooker intended writing but was not able, in consequence of company, fatigue, & etc. All unite in love to every one of our good friends in & about the great city. I must close as my school time draws near. May I hope for a letter by Mrs. Swift?
Yours affectionately, Helen.
Falmouth, Wed.P.M. Oct. 15th, 1845.
My dear Cousin Ann: -
I sent this morning by Mrs. E. Swift, a letter to you, & as I wished to free her from all trouble as far as possible, I have concluded to let you know by mail of it's being sent, so that in some of your numerous walks for health, pleasure, & etc, if convenient you might call & get it.
The letter is one of business, requesting you to do a little shopping for Ann & myself. I hesitated a great while about asking you to call for it but Aunt H. said that you or one of your sisters walked out every day merely for health & would find it no trouble, & would like to see Mrs. Swift.
You will find patterns, & etc. in the letter, & now let me repeat, what I believe I said in my other letter, that you must not put yourself to the slightest inconvenience about it. Don't stir out of the house when you have no other errand, because "That dress of Helen's must be patterned," But if when you are out, & are in stores you will "jist ax a lady" if they have "ony" of the thing you will greatly oblige, yr. very affectionate, Helen Maria.
P.S. Love from all, to all. (To be concise yet expressive.) In great haste.
Addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield.
[judging from the handwriting this must have been written around 1845]
My dear Cousin Ann.
Though Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, is the order of the day with me, I am resolved to write a line to you before I go, the purport of which is to thank you very much indeed for your kind present of the cravat. I like it exceedingly well, but Aunt Vinal and Aunt Hooker have decided that as one has been bought for & worn by me (so that it cannot be returned) with your permission I had better exchange it for some other article more needed & which I shall value equally as much for a present.
You were indeed very kind to think of making me the gift and I feel that I shall ever be under great obligation to you and your family for your kindness in years gone by to my dear mother as well as to my sister & self. It seems indeed as if in the recipience of favors we were the representatives of her whom we all so dearly loved and so deeply mourn.
We were all extremely disappointed not to see more of your family last eve. I thought at the last Cousin Ellen was too tired to walk home but hope that it may not prove too much for her.
While at Weston Pa & myself visited an old man residing at Lexington who is one of the only two survivors of the memorable battle at that place. I requested Pa to procure his autograph for me & knowing your fondness for them begged him to obtain two that I might give one to you. If it is of any value to you I shall be most happy to have got it but if it is not it is no great "Labour lost."
Yrs. aff. & respectfly,
Please remember me to your family. I should feel it a great favor should I rec a letter from any of your number this Summer. I am not in the habit of making apologies for the looks of my writing but I must say I have written this in great haste. Please excuse all imperfections.
My dear Cousin Ann: -
I almost think that I see you with your sisters seated in that pleasant chamber & hear you say "I wonder when Helen is going to answer my letter" & I seem to hear echo answer "When - When -". I presume my imaginings are not very unlike the reality, for if you have thought anything about the matter you have been aware that so kind a letter, & so acceptable a present, demanded some acknowledgement before this time. However apologies are always viewed as lies (often truly) & as I do not wish to injure my character for truth, I will offer no excuse for my tardiness.
I was delighted with those autographs. My stock on hand now numbers seven, a great collection truly! But you know "Small beginnings make great endings", & I value my seven names very much.
I do not get much sympathy from anybody here in regard to the matter for they all think it is a ridiculous piece of folly to care so much for "a little bit of paper with a man's name scrawled on one side" & once in a while they ask if I dont want them to go & write their name for me. But I say "Every man to his taste", and as this taste abridges nobody's happiness I think it is a harmless one.
A droll scene it must have been when Aunt Walker's house took fire. Apart from the danger of a fire it always is more or less a time of ridiculous confusion, some running one way with old chairs, some, another with a butter plate & the dish cloth, & everybody saving just the things of least value. I can easily imagine the poor old folks tumbling downstairs in the dark, frightened half out of their wits. I presume Uncle secured his Latin books & his portrait of Harrison. Annie wrote us he said he was "wholly unable to conjecture the cause of the conflagration" but she added that it probably was his own dear Nancy. What a scene the street must have presented the next morning, for their earthly possessions are of a heterogeneous nature if one might judge from the appearance of their front room.
You ask me what I have been reading. To tell the truth that is rather a difficult question to answer. I have read the newspapers - "profitable employment that", I hear you think. I know it is not the best reading in the world & I have not, by any means, devoted much of my time to it. I have read aloud to Aunt Hooker "The Crescent and the Cross", & a part of Cheever's Wanderings of a Pilgrim Under the Shadow of Mt. Blanc. I have been reading Vital Christianity, a vol. of sermons by Dr. Vinet of Switzerland. I think it very probable that you have seen this work advertised. He is a very eloquent writer and has been styled the Chalmers of Switzerland.
The school commences on Monday. I can hardly realize I am going for I have been so long out. I have not formed any decisive plans in regard to my studies or I would tell you what they were to be. It depends altogether on my father's decision as to my whereabouts. We have talked quite seriously of my going in the Summer to Mt. Holyoke - going to learn how to make hasty pudding and clean gridirons! I expect a letter from pa on Saturday, and shall (probably) know then. What sort of a figure do you think I shall cut washing floors before breakfast & cleaning stew pans after dinner? I can almost see myself now, fuming in a wash tub at three o'clock of a warm day in August. Dog days, perhaps, when you know every body feels so amazingly like working around the house in an energetic manner.
Annie got home yesterday & never did any wanderer receive a heartier welcome than she. But how sad to hear of dear good Aunt Vinal being so sick. We expect a letter tonight & are anxiously waiting to hear from her.
It is raining, thundering, blowing, & dark so that I can hardly see to write. I have not repaid you in kind, for I am quite sensible that this affair (not to dignify it by the name of letter) is not the return your long good letter merited.
However I will not make the matter better but rather worse by palavering over it. Now I am not going to "waste half a page trying to end off" as Mrs. [......] says, but I am just going to put in plenty of love, regards, respects, etc., etc., for all the good people in your country & say
Goodbye Cousin Ann -
Falmouth. Mon. Eve. June 22/46.
My dear Cousin Ann: -
What would you do if you lived away in the country where pretty things did not come? Would you send to the city if you had a dear good cousin there always ready to help you in any way? I think you would, & that I make it my practice, the hosts of packages great & small, which I have come to me directed in your hand, can testify.
Did you ever know a benevolent person, always willing to do a kindness, that did not have as much to do for the rest of the human family, as one pair of hands could attend to? Perhaps your own experience can speak a word on the subject.
From all this, you have doubtless inferred, that Helen has "up & wanted so'thin" & as the mail boy will be here in about ten or fifteen minutes, I must state as speedily as possible what that is. When Cousin Annie was in Boston, she saw in wear and for sale certain silk scarfs, having the appearance, in width & texture of ribbon. She says if she were going to get them, she should inquire for ribbon scarfs, but as I presume you have seen them this is superfluous. I need such an article, & the prevailing color should be purple, & wood-color. A little green or delicate straw color would not be amiss, if more convenient. But any "rad & yaller" would be inappropriate.
Annie said that she should think from the look of them, that they might be easily made, & should they come high, ready made, if you will get me a piece of ribbon the usual size & width, with her assistance I think I could make it myself.
If it would be a considerable saving, I had better pursue the latter course, but if the "boughten" ones are not expensive, I suppose I ought to have one of them.
My bonnet suited me admirably in every respect. Now I do hope you will excuse me for stopping so abruptly, just as soon as I have told you my wants, but there is no alternative. In my haste I had nearly forgotten to say that uncle H. left home today for Boston, & will return on Sat. Remember me if you please to all, & with a great very great deal of gratitude, believe me,
Your affectionate Helen.
P.S. Aunt H. says she left with you some of the "root of all evil."
Addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield, No. 43 Pinckney St. Boston, Masstts.
Ipswich Fem. Sem. Mon. P.M. Feb. 1/47.
My dear Cousin Ann,
I should not wonder if by this time you would be quite willing to hear a little about your friend Helen at Ipswich. I have had sundry intimations from my conscience lately, that it was high time I took some notice of the kind invitation you gave me to write to you, but you know school girls generally have their hands full, or at any rate, think their time is fully occupied. I have a good many correspondents, more I sometimes think than is profitable, but it seems to be inevitable, at least I cannot withdraw from any of them without rudeness. Indeed I cannot say that I wish to for it is very pleasant to receive letters frequently, & if I had more time I should enjoy the answering of them as much as their reception, but I feel often that I made poor returns to all. Ipswich, I do believe is the worst of all places in the world from which to write letters, for news is an unheard of commodity. Nothing happens here from morning till night, from one week end to the other, nobody dies, nobody gets married, nobody comes, nobody goes, nobody does anything as far as I have been able to judge, but keep themselves as much as possible out of the sight and hearing of all the rest of creation. Ipswich you know is an old town & if you did not know it before you would find it out before you had been here six hours. In some of the streets you see nothing but these gray & brown old houses, built with high slanting roofs & the upper story jutting out over the lower, while as you walk along by these specimens of antiquity, you see no one in, around, or about, them but old men, old women, old cats, old dogs, old hens, (never a sign of a chicken) old trees, old fences, old stone walls. Every creature & thing looks as if it grew as old as it could grow two thousand years ago & had been lasting ever since. But some of the streets are much pleasanter & have very handsome houses in them, while the centre of the town is, I should think, as modern in its appearance as most country places. A new church just erected increases its respectability & if they only would get a new minister to preach in it, all would be complete. But their present minister Mr. Kimball, is, I should fancy, not far from a hundred years old, & the prosiest most tiresome old plodder in creation. You can form no idea of his preaching until you have heard it, & so if you incline to think that I have stretched the matter I will only say "Come & see."
I have been well this winter with the exception of one sore throat & a slight bilious attack. From both of these I recovered very quickly & am now very well indeed. Mrs. Cowles's physician is a young man by the name of Brown, & as I detest & abhor every thing in the shape of a young doctor, I was not very well pleased with the idea of having him called to my case, but I was obliged to summit. However I think the dread of having a repetition of his visit was a more powerful remedy than any which he provided & I got well so quickly in both instances that he had no chance to make a second call.
How sick Uncle Vinal has been. You must have been very anxious indeed & Aunt & Martha must have suffered a great deal of fatigue & anxiety. I heard it first from Falmouth. Annie Hooker mentioned in a letter that her mother had gone to Charlestown on account of the illness of Uncle V. She supposed probably that I had heard from C. about it for she said no more & I was very anxious until I received a letter from Martha. I think that when the weather is milder & he can go out to take the air, he will recover his health, or at least get more strength and be comfortable if he is not as well as formerly.
I do not hear from them so often as I could wish, for Martha's time is all taken up, & Annie is so averse to writing letters that it is like drawing teeth to get one out of her. I am sorry she dislikes it so much, but I think she has improved within two years, & I hope in time she will love to write as much as people in general.
What books are you reading now? I do not accomplish much in that line of course, though I contrive to edge in a little almost every day. I have been much interested lately in the "Autobiography of Goethe". Mr. Cowles buys a great many of the books published by Wily & Putnam & this is one of them. Have you seen Dickens' last work, "Dombey & Son" It is published in numbers & I have seen only the first two, but it is interesting.
It is now nearly time for my perspective lesson & I must close. Miss Dunning my room mate is going to Boston in a day or two, & will be the bearer of this. In the package are some paper babies & knick knacks for Annie. Dont give yourself any trouble about getting it to her, but keep it until you happen to be going over. Perhaps she will come for it as I told her I was going to send it.
I should be most happy to have a letter from you, if you have leisure & are willing to take such miserable effusions as I dignify with that name, & send to my friends in return for their favors.
Remember me affectionately to your father, brothers & sisters, & with love to yourself, believe me
[Thursday] Ipswich. July 29/47.
My dear Cousin Ann,
The bundle arrived safely last night & very grateful am I to you for procuring my things for me - I hope you have not made yourself sick by all your exertions in my behalf - My dressmaker is here today - She can work for me only one day this week & so I have concluded that it was best to have my gingham & black cape made today, & my silk next week - Certainly I should prefer an entirely black dress for church next Sunday but in that case I could not go into school until my gingham was made which would be on Thursday. I think my dear father would have wished me to go into school as soon as Monday, as it is Mrs. Cowles's preference, & it seems now to me, that to know that anything was or would be his wish will be sufficient to lead me unhesitatingly to do it.
I would write longer but Mary Ann needs my help - I should be rejoiced to have a letter from you soon dear Cousin Ann - you are one of the kindest friends I have left on earth.
In haste, yrs. affectionately & gratefully
Addressed: Miss Ann Scholfield
Charlestown. Sat. Eve.
My dear Cousin Ann,
I have been meaning for some days to write to you but one thing and another have occurred to prevent the fulfilling of my intention.
The arrival of your beautiful present by Martha has quickened my resolutions. I should surely be grateful for so valuable a gift at any time, but much more so under the existing circumstances.
Of course such tokens of love from my friends, now when I feel that I have in a measure forfeited their affection must be more precious to me. I hope that the time will come when I shall not be so humbled and overwhelmed by any marks of affection. I think it will.
That I have done a great great many very foolish and very wrong things I acknowledge with shame and sorrow, and I think that to be accused wrongfully of some is no more than I deserve as a punishment for what I have in reality done or said.
I thank you sincerely cousin Ann for the evidence, and a strong one it was too, which you gave of your love and kind interest for me in holding that painful conversation with me. That I felt a little hardly at first I will not deny. Perhaps it was not unnatural that I should. But you will believe me I think when I say that now I have not the slightest feeling of the kind. I am grateful very grateful to you for it and I see the love and interest which it required in you, to make you willing to do it.
Many promises of amendment, either in words or in writing I will not make. They are easily professed and easily broken. If I mean to do better & to be better, my life will show it, & that alone can show it. For that proof my kind friends must wait in patience. I hope, I think they will not wait in vain.
It is very dark and I must bid you now an affectionate goodnight.
Yrs. sincerely & gratefully,
Mattapoisett, Mon. Aug. 1, 1853.
My dear Cousin Ann -
With some hesitation I have ventured to come to you for some help in the shopping line - which I know if you are well, you will be willing to give me, but which I hate to ask, for fear that it may be a time when you are not going out much. I was relying upon Annie to attend to them on her way to Amherst this week, but she has this morning received a letter from her to-be sister in law, Mrs. Baylies Sanford, wishing her to go with them from Taunton directly through to Amherst, so she will not stop at all in Boston - and I have no other friend there but you to whom I could think of applying for such assistance.
I want 1/4 yard of the 1/4 yd. wide flannel - for a blanket - not the very nicest quality, because it is only for a common blanket - but still good and soft; and enough flannel binding to bind it with. I am not particular about the width, indeed I don't know what widths it comes. 2nd - 2 yds. of very nice cambric edging, for the bottom of a skirt to be put with one of those imported waists. You know the quality of the work. I suppose I could not get it nice enough and wide enough under $1.50 a yard. 3rd (and lastly, in the trimming line) I want 4 1/2 yds of cambric edging of this pattern - (don't laugh at my drawing).
You can get the idea from that - all open work of iolets. If you can find it without fagotting I should like it a little better, but this is of no material consequence. I should like it with as wide a piece of cambric below the work as possible. As to width - I was just going to say I don't care how wide it is -; I think the widest that ever comes of this kind of work would be none too wide - but if it is wider than this or quite as wide, I shall want one yard of the same but narrower, for the neck. It is for a little waist - the front to be made of the points put together like this so that it would be perhaps prettier to have the two widths - the very widest for the front & narrow for the neck.
Now if all this is too much trouble? It is a great deal I know, and I really should not have asked it if I had know one body else who I thought would be willing to do it for me, or whom I would dare trust to buy nice things. But I can only say, that I will do as much for somebody else if not for you, one of these days, and be very grateful to you in the interim. One want more I have, in another line - : one that seems small and yet is very great - of a small tape needle! I can't find one that will draw the bobbin through the necks of the little dresses I have made, and if they should turn out to be too narrow to hold the string what a predicament it would be. Perhaps you will chance to see a very tiny one & if so I should be very glad of it. But now Cousin Ann, I come to the worst part of my story! To ask other people to do very troublesome shopping for you is bad enough- but to invite them to pay the bills too is cool: Yes I must trespass even to that extent, on your generosity. I have not the money here to send you. Annie was to go to the Deacon for it: So if you will just send me a memorandum of the amount, and trust me till the last of Aug. when I shall be in Boston, the obligation will be doubled!
Annie's eyes are much better - and she sends much love to you all: also to Aunt Vinal when you see her, with which mine must go too. I have wanted to write to Aunt Vinal since I have been here, but it has been out of the question. I have been so hurried. I do not expect to write any letters till next winter! Edward was here a week ago yesterday - he is now at Cleveland at the meeting of the American Association, but will be here again next week, I expect. I begin almost to long to be settled again in our own rooms together, for it is dreary to live apart so much. Still the summer has passed much more pleasantly than I anticipated - and much more quickly too! It almost takes my breath away to think of its being August. The first of September must see us set sail for Washington - and so much ought to be done before then. So I must not write longer now. Goodbye: - with my best love to your sisters,
Yours ever affectionately,
Helen M.F. Hunt.
P.S. My address is Care of Rev. Wm. L. Mather,
To Miss Ann Scholfield
Mattapoisett, Sat. Eve.
Aug. 6, 1853.
My dear Cousin Ann,
I received the package from your hands late last night - and was delighted with all the contents. Everything that you purchased was exactly right, and the old linen went to my heart! In some circumstances, what could be a greater calamity than to have "old things pass away, and all things become new"!
You are very kind indeed to keep the little blankets; I hope it will not be very much trouble to bind it: "baby bunting" shall be very grateful for it. As to the little flannel shirts - with all due deference to Aunt Tufts' suggestion, I do not think that linen shirts are superseded at all, nor ever will be, (unless by cotton) among people who have healthy babies! I have heard the practice spoken of, and very strongly reprehended, as creating a necessity for flannel always; I have been principled against flannel, for years, except as a remedy - and I think I shall put Jennie (?) into cold water instead! - But I am very much obliged to you for your kind offer to make them - just as much obliged as if I had them.
Annie left us Friday, on her way to Amherst, via Taunton. I suppose she is enjoying her fist call from "John" tonight. Her eyes were really quite comfortable when she went, and I hope the worst of it is over for this season. I should feel unwilling on some accounts to have her go to the Infirmary. Still, if she continues to be afflicted year after year, it will seem as if everything should be tried.
I am very glad to hear that Mrs. Baker has gone away: she needed a rest very much indeed, and she will be a much better nurse for Auntie, for having had the recreation. Is not Aunt Maria a blessing in the time of need? I wonder how she and Cousin Martha will coalesce? You must give a great deal of love to Auntie from me; and tell her (and this is for you, too) that I am still very well, and am not hurrying myself at all. My work is very fairly progressing, though I still feel that there is a good deal to be done. I shall be in Boston the 25th - and we expect to start for Washington the first week in September. Goodnight! It is quite late - and moreover they are all talking in the room and I shall make some curious interpolations if I do not stop. My best love to your sister and much to yourself,
Yrs. ever affly -
P.S. I'm glad you are "generous with other people's things"! That's the way I shall pay you back, with my husband's!
Newport, Sat. Eve.
My dear Cousin Ann -
I have just learned tonight that the Unitarian fair is to "come off" a fortnight earlier than was at first proposed; it takes place on Wednesday next; I am very sorry indeed, for it just tips over all the dishes I had fixed in connection with it. My eleven dolls are still as naked as they were born - & I have done nothing but to make one little sack. I was intending to begin next week to work steadily for it - and I suppose that neither you nor Mrs. Welsh and Miss Goodwin will have got anything finished & I presume they are not ready to come down yet. I have just written them, however, telling them of it - & if they care enough for it, they may come down Tuesday. But if you have happened to get anything done, just send it to me in a box by express, if you get this letter in time (of course you will let me bear the expense.)
I don't know when a little thing has tried me so much; it has so completely disconcerted all my plans - & I really wanted to do something very much, for them, but "it is as it is & can't be no tiser," as Edward says of things that can't be helped; & we shall get the credit for our good intentions without any pricking of our fingers over the sewing!
My good girl Julia got back again last night, to my great delight; the new cook came too - & promises I think rather better than the old one; but oh, dear me! I feel like Mrs. Stowe when she says "What shall we do! Shall we have a bag of meal & a porridge stick & sit in the door of our tent? What shall we do!" How in the world a mortal woman is expected to pay the remotest attention to that Scripture injunction "Take no thought what ye eat and drink", I must confess passes my comprehension; I think of precious little else!
I wish you would come down here this summer - or fall. They say that September & October are really the pleasantest months here; I should love dearly to see either one - or any two - or all three of you at once; I have two "spare rooms" - one best - & one second best; - and it would truly please us both very much to have a visit from you.
Shall I be telling you any news, if I say that next winter I trust to hold another darling baby in my arms? or have you suspected me before? I look for the little comer about the last of Nov. & can hardly wait for the time, no other child can ever fill little Murray's place - nor can be like the first born - but I think after mother-life and mother-love have once been known, nothing else can ever satisfy the heart, and it is a very great joy to us both to hope for another child. Now I must say Goodnight, for it is very late - & so cold that I am sleepy. Give my love to both your sisters & believe me
As ever - affly yours -
To: Miss Ann Scholfield.
Newport, Sat. Eve.,
Nov. 24, 1855.
My dear Cousin - I remember so well your previous favors in the shopping line, that I venture to trouble you to get for me a little thing which I cannot find here, but which I suppose can be easily found in B. I want three whole pieces of ribbon like the enclosed, to re trim a little cap; it is not at all essential that it should be just like this - only, a pearl edge is much prettier & it must not be blue white. I have made one of my little caps look quite ugly, by putting on ribbon of too blue a shade, but I thought it would so soon have a second color laid on, that it would be foolish to change it. You don't know how I envy you, having seen the baby! It seems to me every day as if I must go & take one look at it; & if I could only have known, I might as well have gone for one day, as not; I dare say I might go yet, just as well as not too, & it is so tantalizing not to quite dare to! Annie seems to have been almost as favored as I was; it must be without doubt a family peculiarity; & one to be very thankful for I think, if it is put down in the books as a disease! (I hope I shall never be cured!) You are in some danger of having that dress to tuck, I think, for I have been asked if I didn't believe I was going to have twins!! Polite some people are in this world, don't you think so? But I am not astonished, for indeed I remind myself more of the old Dutch Captains in Knickerbocker's History of N.Y. than of anything else, & I am sure I shouldn't know whether it was "six feet five, or five feet six - up & down, or across!
But I am very well indeed - & trust for a fortnight's more leisure, to finish a little cloak which I have begun to embroider - which promises to be very pretty. All the indoors wardrobe is in complete readiness, & I should like to show you my drawers; I wish you would write me a little note with the ribbon & tell me just how Annie looked & the baby - & everything else about it, which I can't learn from a man's letters.
Everett is remarkably good about writing often & definitely, but still they are not such notes as a woman writes.
If you see Putnam's you may like to know that the Coast Survey article is by Mr. Hunt. He is now busy on another article for the same, one on Sea Coast Defences; not very attractive subjects, however for us ladies, unless we care something for the man that writes. - Goodnight. - It is so dark I can hardly see at all; with much love to your sisters & yourself - Goodnight -
Ever affly - Helen.
To: Miss Ann Scholfield.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 1855.
Dear Miss Scholfield.
I know that every member of your household will be glad to hear good news from Helen. I am privileged to communicate the best of news, for Helen's trial is most happily overpast. At 2 1/4 oc. this morning she gave birth to a fine boy so like what Murray was when a week old that we almost seem to have him back again. He weighs 9 1/4 pounds, is perfectly well formed, is a model of philosophical repose & dreamy pondering, sleeping much & scarcely crying at all; has such stout, cunning hands & clings to a finger or sucks his own with such cool resolution; by every way indeed exhibits such mental promise, that to doubt his future distinction, must require the utmost valor of skepticism. But in earnest, he seems to be an unusually mature & well conditioned child.
Helen has been highly favored. She was not sick half an hour before the birth of the child & there was nobody but our Rebecca (negro seamstress & chambermaid) present when the birth took place. Helen has much of her former strength left & with good nursing & attendance, both of which she has, her speedy recovery may most confidently be hoped for. She is as happy & content as one could wish & does not shrink from the weariness of two weeks or more of immobility. She needs have no care of the house for we have good servants now. She sends love to you & your sisters & would rejoice to see you when time favors to exhibit her Cornelian jewel.
With kindest remembrances to yourself & your sisters, I am,
Newport, Mon. Morn.
Dear Cousin Ann - I brought all my writing materials up stairs immediately after breakfast trusting to Providence & a sleeping baby, for a chance to write you a note. Some two hours have passed & this is my first opportunity! So much for the on certainty of woman affairs; now the little fellow is lying on Miss Spooner's lap, having just gone through the process of his morning toilette without one single cry; this is very wonderful, & is to be ascribed to his having continued to take a long morning nap first. I wish very much that you could take a look at him just now - his father sits in the chair opposite, making all sorts of unimaginable grimaces & noises, at which Rennie is goose enough to laugh most immoderately: he is a great laugher, & comes as near being a great talker as could be expected - confining his efforts as yet, mainly to mono-syllables: I wish he were not so lively and mature - & above all that he did not look so much like dear little Murray; but he grows more & more like him every day, though he is larger & takes much more notice than little Murray did at his age. I can hardly realize that he was only six weeks old yesterday - we weighed him yesterday, & he weighs thirteen pounds & a little over. I think it would have been half a pound, but he screamed & we let him down in a hurry; it is a very nervous operation to weight a baby!
Edward goes today to Boston to be gone a fortnight. I dread the long lonely days, a good deal, but baby will be a great help: My nurse too will stay with me till Edward comes back, so I shall be less lonely, & feel less anxiety; she is an excellent person - a good nurse, & personally agreeable which is everything in such. I only wish Annie had had as good an one - but I have rather inferred from one or two things that Annie has dropped, that the old lady was not very bright & rather past her prime, besides: I think Annie is a little wonder! How in the world she could have taken the whole care of her baby in a month, I can't imagine; I shall have to acknowledge that she is either much stronger or much more energetic than I - however I prefer to call it the former, & I guess truly, too: I was as strong as she at twenty - but twenty-five finds me a good deal thinner & "waker": I have a notion that from seventeen to twenty-two or three is our fleshy strong age; if she keeps on as well as this, I shall lay it all to housework; a sort of exercise which I have the greatest respect for - at a distance: I have been doing great things myself in that line, lately; it has been such abominable weather that I could not get any out of door exercise, so I told Rebecca I would dust the parlor every day: - but I shouldn't like to have your critical eyes go poking into the corners of the whatnots - & round the back legs of the piano. I am perfectly well aware that Rebecca laughs in her sleeve when she looks round the room, for I always forget something - & somethings I don't forget, I don't dust! but I hate it - it dirties my hands through my gloves, & dirties my head, and tires me - & I have had serious doubts lately whether the exercise on the whole was beneficial? I tried washing dishes one morning instead, but that was worse - making beds suits me best, but there are only two to be made - & Edward's is always made before breakfast, or so soon after that I can't do it - & by the time mine is ready to be made, Rennie is sure to be asleep, & it has got to be made, still, which I can't do; am I not in a dilemma? I catch myself wondering sometimes if I am truly the same Helen Fiske, who used to be maid of all work in Mrs. Hooker's family when the girl was gone - I can't believe that I used to get up before six in the winter - get breakfast - wash potatoes - & fry buckwheats - wash pots & kettles - make bread - sweep - & pick over three barrels of apples at a time in a freezing cold closet - but I surely did all those things & a great many more which are not written. However, I have now more charity for Mrs. Hooker than I once had; I have seen in the journeyings of the last five years, so many ways by which people commit absurdities & sins, all the while believing as devoutly as Saul, that they are doing God good service - that I have considerable charity for almost everybody & everything. I presume that she really wished to make my domestic education complete, & were she to know today how entirely every thing she taught me in that line has gone out of my head, she would only feel that I was to blame, & not dream that it was the natural result of the do-it-because-you-must system, and that she might as well expect her old coffee mill to keep on grinding after she let go the handle, as that I should ever do again of my own free will & cheerfully one single one of the things she made me do in those two years! Dr. Hedge preached a glorious sermon here last summer - "our prisons" - & I thought of Falmouth half the time he was speaking!
Well, I thought when I sat down that I could only squeeze out time enough before dinner to write you a short note, & ask you to execute a little commission in Boston town for me - and I have already spun out quite a letter; I send in this box one of my external adornments which needs sprucing up a little; did you know I was such an old lady that I wear false hair? I want this band made into two rolls - one a good deal larger than the other - about two thirds I think on the larger one. I have rolled it myself after a rude fashion to give some idea of what I want - & I presume any hair dresser will know at once. I have seen several and admire them very much - they look like a rope & yet very Grecian! It is to wear round the head, showing only in front, like the black velvet roll you may remember I wore last fall. Please tell Edward what the charge for it is & he will pay you - he will call, too, to get it, & I hope it will not be too much trouble for you to get it done. I don't know whether Boyle's is the best place or not - but presume it could be done at almost any place of the sort. The ribbon you sent me was exactly the color & answered nicely - & the gingerbread was admirable. I have had my daughter of Erin make some by your rule but it was not half as good as yours.
Please thank Cousin Ellen for the loan of Mary Swan's memoir. I have been much interested in reading it, & had wanted to do so for some time. I should send it back now, but Edward wants to read it, & as I conclude you have all read it, I shall keep it until next time.
Now I believe all is said, except my best love to both your sisters & yourself - & my thanks for all your favors - it is indeed a very great favor to be able to send for such little things now and then - things of which the want is more than the worth & while it is often a very serious inconvenience to be obliged to go without - I hope I shall not show myself too ready to avail myself of your kind offer - but if I do, you must cry out "enough".
Yrs. very affly,
[October 14, 1857] Bristol, Wed. Eve.
Oct. 13, 1857.
My dear Cousin Ann -
Are you in walking trim to do a little commission for me in the shopping line? I am in a great "co[---] of mind" just at the present, having sent to New York to match the purple silk I bought last spring & having met with no success. I sent through a Newport merchant & I do not believe he tried much to find it, for I cannot believe that in all the city of New York there is not a piece of royal purple silk of this shade. When I had a large bill every season at his store, he was a grand hand to look up odds & ends of shopping in New York - but I suppose I ought not to expect it of him now. I bought this silk at Warren's & it was $1.50 a yard: - I hope you may find it there - but if you do not, do not try at any except the few principal stores just in that immediate vicinity, for I do not want you to get fatigued in looking for it. I was in Boston myself last week, & could have looked myself, but I was depending on Mr. Lawton to get it for me. I wanted very much to come up & see you - but so much of my time was taken up in going to Cambridge, Roxbury & West Roxbury, that it was utterly impossible. I did not have time to do all my shopping & had to run for the cars at last. The rooms which I went on to look at in Cambridge would not answer at all - so I suppose there is little doubt that I shall be in N. Haven for the winter. I am sorry not to be near my friends - when one has so few positive "relations" as I have, it seems a pity not to be near them; but I think N. Haven has some advantages over
possibly come up once more for a final leave taking - if I do I shall certainly come to see you; but it is quite uncertain. I am very busy getting Edward & Rennie ready for the winter. Give my love to Cousin Ellen & Adeline - & to yourself - E. would send his but he is at Newport.
Yours ever affly -
Helen M.F. Hunt.
P.S. I want three yards & a half of the silk - & you need not pay for it; they will send it from the store with a bill for the Expressman to collect the money on delivering the package to me. I have had several packages sent so this fall - & it is a very safe good way. Tell them to address - Lieut. Hunt - Miss Baylies's, Bristol, R.I.
P.S. If you can find any black cashmere or Thibet, for less than $1.00 a yard, I should like six yards to be sent in the same way & to be paid for to the Expressman. They have col'd cashmere for 75 cts - but I did not notice any black ones; at Doherty's, you can get one for 90 cts. at any rate, if you don't see them anywhere else. I have just had a whole piece of elegant ribbon sent me from N. York, to match a poplin dress, & it does not match it well enough to put on - so I thought I would have a black cashmere morning dress & trim it with it. It is black ground with very rich bright colors on each edge & will be very stylish on a black dress.
Helen Hunt Jackson
Special Collections Home
maintained by Special Collections; last revised 9-02, jr